SAN FRANCISCO — Marine scientists looking for new ways to reduce the number of whales struck and killed off California's coast by massive commercial ships have turned to a familiar tool: mobile devices.
An app called "Whale Spotter" uses crowd-sourcing to gather data, allowing sailors, fishermen and marine scientists who spot whales to plot their location on an interactive map. The maps created could then be used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard officials to recommend different vessel routes.
The app is the latest development in a collaboration between shipping companies, government officials and scientists to reduce whale strikes. Testing begins this weekend to see how effective it will be.
"Everybody agrees that we need to try to keep whales and ships separated physically to the greatest extent possible," said John Berge, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. "Right now, we know where the ships are, but we don't know where the whales are."
Berge said the shipping industry supported development of the application as another tool in a new arsenal being created to reduce the strikes.