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New iPad app could help save endangered whales at sea

Whale Alert is designed to give ship captains a warning that right whales are in their vicinity. The hope is that mariners will be able to avoid colliding with the highly endangered animals.

The new Whale Alert iPad app could help save endangered right whales in the Atlantic Ocean. Whale Alert

You might not think that an iPad could help save whales, but that's just what an app released today is designed to do.

Known as Whale Alert, the iPad app is designed to help ship captains avoid colliding with whales in congested shipping channels.

Specifically, the app, which was created in partnership between the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), private companies, academia, and the government, is meant to link "the bridge of a ship to the latest data about right whale detections and informs users when their vessels enter right whale management areas."

North Atlantic right whales, which can be found from Newfoundland to Florida, are a highly endangered species, with just 450 remaining today. And while almost all of them have been named and identified by scientists, one of the leading causes of death for right whales is collision with ships.

According to a release from IFAW, "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...on a ship's bridge showing the whale's presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes."

As well, the app uses GPS, the Automatic Identification System, the Web, and digital nautical chart tech to provide alerts that give captains real-time information on government conservation measures in their vicinity.