A new smartphone app allowing whale-watch operators and other seafarers to record sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises is to be launched next year by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, thanks to an award of more than £79,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The innovative project will allow wildlife tour operators and enthusiasts to systematically record the locations of marine mammals using technology available in their pocket.
The app will work at sea without phone reception as it will rely on GPS only, uploading data once internet coverage is available.
Alongside the app development, a programme of free training events and workshops for the public will be held throughout the west of Scotland to train volunteers how to identify and record marine wildlife.
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will deliver much needed long-term monitoring data, as well as engaging local mariners with the amazing wildlife that the west of Scotland has to offer.”
Community engagement work by the trust has shown that data collected by members of remote coastal communities can transform our understanding of marine mammals in the Hebrides – including which places are important to them and when, declines and recoveries in numbers, and emerging threats.
The trust’s Crowd Sourcing for Marine Mammal Conservation project will engage boat users with the unique marine wildlife in their area. The project has already received support from local tour operators, but the trust also welcomes new partnerships.