Real-Time Interactive Tool Makes It Easier To Help Track Endangered Whales

Source: CBC News/Angela Bosse

Photo: Moira Brown and New England Aquarium

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Tracking North Atlantic right whales may now be easier than ever, thanks to WhaleMap, an interactive map that pools data from various whale surveillance methods and is updated in real time.

WhaleMap was developed by Hansen Johnson, a PhD student in oceanography at Dalhousie University.

Johnson is a part of the Dalhousie MEOPAR Whale Project, which uses underwater gliders to detect whales acoustically. They wanted to combine that data with visual tracking from various data contributors. MEOPAR stands for marine environmental observation, prediction and response network.

“I just started making maps and sharing them with our research group and then it just slowly grew from there,” Johnson said.

Last year, 18 of the endangered right whales died off the coast of Eastern Canada and the United States. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed six fishing areas indefinitely this May in an effort to protect the 450 or so whales that remain.

“The urgency of the situation has gotten substantially higher, so now we just needed a new tool to organize all the information coming in,” Johnson said.

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Photo: Moira Brown and New England Aquarium