The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous with whales spotted in Burrard Inlet today as we announce the launch of WhaleReport, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s latest app. Monitoring the distribution and occurrence of B.C.’s cetaceans and sea turtles helps scientists develop conservation measures to protect them, but with more than 25,000 kilometres of coastline to keep an eye on, it’s a big job. For the past 40 years researchers have been asking the public to help out by reporting their sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles.

Developed with funding provided by Mountain Equipment Co-op, this new app provides an innovative and easy way to report your sightings. Information collected will help identify areas most important to these species at different times of the year, and changes in their distribution over time. In turn, those discoveries will inform measures taken to aid the recovery of species most at risk.

Now in its 15th year, our B.C. Cetacean’s Sightings Network has collected sightings from over 4,000 citizen scientists and manages a database over of 83,000 sighting reports. Sightings in the past have been reported on a toll-free phone line, a web form, in email or using paper logbooks. All of these options will remain in place, but the new app will make it easier than ever for observers to send in a sighting as it automatically records the time, date, and the location. The app also includes a species identification guide and a wealth of other information.

Report your whale sightings with this free app

A screen shot of the new Whale Report App.

Sightings can happen at any time and can be made from any location or viewing platform including recreational boats, ferries and even the shoreline. This was an important factor to consider, according to the Sightings Network’s coordinator, Tessa Danelesko.

“What I’m most excited about is that for the first time ever, anyone can report sightings using smartphones or tablets; devices most people carry with them almost everywhere. This means reporting is more convenient than ever, which is especially important since many sightings occur unexpectedly,” said Danelesko.

Mountain Equipment Co-op’s funding allowed the Sightings Network to include a variety of exciting features in the WhaleReport app including the ability to take a photo or choose an existing one, load vessel and weather information, the ability to select the sighting location from a map or via GPS, and the option to see everything you’ve reported using the app with a personalized sightings summary map.

Whale report sightings app

Sightings can happen when you least expect it.

All of this information will be at your fingertips whether you’re on a boat, walking along the cliff tops or paddling your kayak out on the water. You don’t even need an active phone signal to access the app or send in your reports, as you can log your sightings offline and submit when back in mobile range.

Additional funding for the project was kindly provided by Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk and BG Canada.

With both boating and ecotourism ramping up for summer, we encourage everyone to download the free app today from the iTunes app store or from the Google Android store. Do your part to protect B.C.’s cetaceans and sea turtles by reporting what you see – you never know when you your next sighting will be!

10 Responses

  1. Sighting of Killer Whales

    I refer to my previous report on sighting of killer whales, the date of sighting should be Tuesday 2015-06-23.

    Reply
  2. Sighting of killer whales

    I am am a visitor from Hong Kong for holiday. On 2015-06-22, when I was fishing with some friends at the NE tip of Martin Island, Pender Harbour, Sunshine Coast, I saw 4 killer whales swam pass my boat about 5m away. An unique encounter. I may supply photos on request by Email.

    Reply
  3. John

    Is there a sight that identifies where whales have been most recently sited in the southern Vancouver Island waters in order to avoid them if you are recreationally going fishing?

    I fish with my dad in the Juan De Fuca Straits and we were surprised and set upon by some Orca’s hunting .

    If I new ahead of time where the whales were and the direction they were traveling in I probably were I probably would have gone elsewhere or later to that area?

    Love your sight and the new app.

    Cheers,

    J

    Reply
    • Vancouver Aquarium

      Thanks so much for reaching out, we are so glad you like the app! Your question is very interesting, as usually we have requests from people who want to know where the whales are instead of wanting to avoid them. We really appreciate your efforts to avoid cetaceans while fishing. To answer your inquiry, the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network does not make sightings data publicly available. We will often highlight past sightings of interest through their Facebook page, newsletter, or website. Advertising cetacean hotspots can draw a large number of vessels into those important areas, increasing the risk of collision, disrupting natural behavior, and noise disturbance. Sightings Network data is used for conservation-based projects like recovery strategies for species at risk and critical habitat planning and can be requested by other research, conservation, and planning projects. Have a great time out on the water, and let us know if you spot anything out there!

      Reply
  4. Lynda Gates

    Yesterday June 21,2015.we saw about 30 orcas down off Roberts Bank late in the afternoon…..a mother with a baby…..lots of very large ones and then medium sized ones…what an amazing experience it was!!!

    Reply
  5. Shari Tarantino

    Hi Tessa,

    I think the new app is great, however, what type of delay will you will imposing when it is in relation to the endangered Southern Residents and the threatened Northern Residents? In short, will BC’s Cetacean’s Sighting Network continue to impose a delay as they have in the past?

    I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

    Shari
    Shari Tarantino
    President, Board of Directors
    Orca Conservancy
    [email protected]

    Reply
    • Vancouver Aquarium

      Hi Shari, glad you like the app! The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network is very mindful of the threat of vessel disturbance to cetaceans, which is why our sightings are not made publicly available. The Sightings Network will often highlight past sightings of interest through their Facebook page, newsletter, or website, wildwhales.org. Sightings Network data is used for conservation-based projects like recovery strategies for species at risk and critical habitat planning and can be requested by other research, conservation, and planning projects. One of the neat features of the new WhaleReport app is that observers can now visualize their own sightings on a personalized map containing all observations they have submitted.

      Reply

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