New iPad, iPhone app helps protect endangered whales

Wednesday, 4 April, 2012
Yarmouth Port, MA






A new app for iPad and iPhone combines science and technology to help save critically endangered North Atlantic right whales by reducing threats of collisions with large ships along the East Coast of North America. The free Whale Alert app is the result of a multi-organization effort that brings together government, academia, private sector industries and IFAW.

Whale Alert provides mariners and others with one-stop shopping for all right whale management measures using easy-to-use nautical chart-displayed information. The app links the bridge of a ship to the latest data about right whale detections and informs users when their vessels enter right whale management areas.

“Endangered right whales are being run over and killed by ships, but we can save them," said Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Whale Program Director. "This new iPad app helps keep whales and ships apart and gives them a fighting chance. Imagine a world where endangered right whales use iPads and iPhones to alert ship captains that they are in the area. That dream is now reality and IFAW is very proud to be part of the team that made it happen.”

A key feature of Whale Alert is a display linking a system of near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to an iPad (or iPhone) on a ship’s bridge showing the whale’s presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes in and around Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

The link to the listening network is only part of what Whale Alert does. The app uses Global Positioning System (GPS), Automatic Identification System (AIS), the World-Wide Web, and digital nautical chart technologies to alert mariners to NOAA’s right whale conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity. 

North Atlantic right whales, which live along North America's east coast from Newfoundland to Florida, are one of the world’s rarest large animals and a species on the brink of extinction. So few exist--about 450--that scientists have identified and named almost all of them. Collision with ships is a leading cause of right whale death. 

The Whale Alert app is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPad or at

Whale Alert has been developed by collaboration among the maritime, conservation and scientific communities, led by scientists at NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  Collaborating organizations include Bioacoustic Research Program at Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, EarthNC, Excellerate Energy, EOM Offshore, Gaia GPS, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries Service, NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, National Park Service, Cape Cod National Seashore, United States Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

More information on Whale Alert and the groups responsible for its development can be found at

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos, video and graphics are available for media use at

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation