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Save the whales: there's an app for that!

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, probably less than five hundred, that scientists have identified and named almost all of them. Collision with ships is a leading cause of right whale death.

A new app for Apple’s iPad and iPhone combines science and technology to help save critically endangered North Atlantic right whales by reducing the threat 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 the International Fund for Animal Welfare (

“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 app helps keep whales and ships apart and gives them a fighting chance.”

The app relies on a series of acoustic buoys that gather sounds emitted by right whales. These sounds are transmitted to a computer system managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. From there, the data is set to the University on New Hampshire for further processing and then transmitted to a light house near Boston Harbor which then relays the the position of each right whale to iPhones and iPads located on a ship’s bridge.

The app uses GPS, the Automatic Identification System, the Web, and digital nautical chart technologies to alert mariners to NOAA’s right whale conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity.

Screenshot of app provided by IFAW. The Animal Rescue Site supports IFAW's endeavors to rescue domestic and wild animals around the world through contributions from the Click Here To Give program, Gifts That Give More [tm], and sales at The Animal Rescue Site store.

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