A new app from Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has launched to help members of the public and boat operators gather vital scientific data for the charity about whales, dolphins and porpoises off Scotland’s west coast.
Whale Track can be downloaded free from Google Play and App Store. It is designed to provide a quick and easy way for people to report and submit their sightings of these species from across the Hebrides, and has been supported by a grant of more than £79,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Developed by mobile app company Natural Apptitude, it is a development of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s Community Sightings Network, which encourages local communities, wildlife tour operators and visitors to the area to report marine wildlife sightings.
Whale Track is designed to work at sea and in remote coastal communities where there is often no cellular coverage, allowing boat operators, fishermen and other seafarers to get involved, while coastal communities can report their sightings from land.
All data collected by the app feeds into a web portal, allowing anyone to interact with this information – including by exploring recent sightings, generating sightings maps and discovering top-reported species. Registered users can keep a record of what they have seen and when, and add photographs. The app also includes a species identification guide.
Liz Bonnin, Patron of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said:
“Encouraging the public to play a very real part in the protection of their local wildlife is essential if we are going to have any chance of safeguarding it for the future.
“Thanks to great advances in technology, the Whale Track app will allow everyone to contribute to research, no matter how remote their location – even if they are out of network or wifi coverage. It’s an exciting prospect, and a very positive step towards protecting this magnificent part of the planet.”
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