Do you remember the first story in Ocean Frontiers—Saving Whales at Stellwagen Bank? Not sure anyone could forget the amazing whale footage and the funny little suction cup things called DTAGs that the scientists were sticking onto the whales. But in case you did, you can always watch the clip from that story here. We are also excited to give an update on how the whale-tagging is going this summer.
In those two weeks this summer, Dr. Wiley and his crew successfully tagged 21 humpback whales and identified around 160 individuals. Dr. Wiley proclaims, “We probably have one of the largest databases for fine-scale foraging behavior of anywhere in the world at this point.” Wiley added however, “The most striking insight is that each humpback has its own set of behaviors, often confounding efforts to generalize about the species. It’s frustrating and complicated and fascinating all at the same time.”
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is a rich stretch of ocean at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. It is home to several species of endangered whales including humpback whales and North Atlantic right whales. There are only an estimated 350-550 right whales remaining in the world.
The shipping lanes of Boston Harbor traverse through the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, bringing large ships through whale feeding grounds, resulting in deadly collisions.
Taking cues from the great whales’ travel ways, their sounds and whale song, shipping executives, marine biologists, the Port of Boston and an energy company came together and found a solution that worked for both commerce and whales. In 2007, the collaborative work of these ‘unlikely allies’ resulted in the first port in the nation, the Port of Boston, to move the shipping lanes to protect marine mammals—reducing the risk of ship strikes to endangered right whales and other large whale species by more than 80%.
In their on-going efforts, the collaborators recently released an exciting, new iPhone/iPad application called WhaleALERT. WhaleALERT is designed to augment existing ship navigation tools informing mariners of the safest and most current information to reduce the risk of ship and right whale collisions along the Eastern seaboard.
Learn more from the people featured in Ocean Frontiers
WhaleALERT iPad/iPhone app demonstration – Dave Wiley, Research Coordinator for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, demonstrates how the worlds first iPhone/iPad application for saving whales works.