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How Whale Alert Is Helping Save Whales

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Thousands of whales migrate through the Pacific Ocean past San Diego every year. Because San Diego is so popular both for commercial fishing and tourism, it’s easy for boats to collide with whales. Collisions are especially serious for blue whales, which are endangered, but they also harm humpback and gray whale populations. If you spend a lot of time boating in Southern California, consider downloading the Whale Alert app to help protect these magnificent animals, some species of which are endangered.

Why Are Whales at Risk?

In addition to collisions with boats, whales are at risk from pollution. Commercial activities such as drilling for fossil fuels introduce toxins into these whales’ environments, and they also cause noise pollution that can prevent whales from communicating properly.

Whales were killed regularly until the 1970s, especially for oil and meat. In 1971, the United States banned all commercial whaling, and since then, two groups of whales have come off the endangered species list. Still, most whale populations are recovering from years of being hunted unsustainably, and illegal whaling and poaching continue to threaten whale populations.

What Is Whale Alert?

Whale Alert is an app that partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to identify the position of whales, as well as any potential threats. Mobile phone owners can use the app to note places where they come across injured or dead whales, as well as groups of whales that seem to be thriving.

How Does Whale Alert Work?

When it’s open, Whale Alert looks like a map. Whale sightings appear as green circles with whale tails, so you know which areas to avoid. As you near an area with confirmed whale sightings, notifications on your screen provide details about the whales and request that you lower your speed to decrease the chances of a fatal collision.

The NOAA encourages all boaters to report whale sightings, even if you’re not a professional. Simply click on the “Report Sighting” button below the image of binoculars at the bottom of your map. Provide as many details as possible, including the number of whales, their condition, and any photos you’ve taken.

Whale Alert App Benefits

Most importantly, the Whale Alert App reduces the number of collisions between commercial and private vessels and whales. This reduction allows whales to live longer and reproduce more, giving their populations time to rebuild from years of overhunting.

Additionally, the Whale Alert app provides data to NOAA Fisheries, the government organization that tracks different species of marine animals and promotes sustainable fishing practices. NOAA Fisheries employees use Whale Alert’s reports to study whale migration patterns and social behavior. As research increases, these experts can identify more ways to support whale populations and protect them from exploitation.

Furthermore, officials who oversee boating use Whale Alert to figure out how high speed limits should be. Areas that have lots of whale sightings need lower speed limits, around 10 knots per hour, while areas that don’t see a lot of whale activity can have higher limits. 

Make an Impact by Downloading the App

You don’t have to be a marine biologist or a conservation expert to make a difference for whale populations. By downloading the app and being vigilant about reporting whale sightings, you can support the crucial work of these scientists. The app is available on both the App Store and Google Play, and it doesn’t cost anything to download. 

Do your part to keep the Bay Area’s whale populations thriving by downloading and staying active on the Whale Alert app.