Citizen scientists around Southeast Alaska recorded over 1,000 marine mammal sightings with Whale mAPP this summer. Thanks to all of the volunteers who worked hard to make this project a success. 

Marine mammals sightings this summer. Each green dot represents one recording, while every dark red line indicates a vessel track line. 

Marine mammals sightings this summer. Each green dot represents one recording, while every dark red line indicates a vessel track line. 

Our survey results show that volunteer citizen scientists had an overall positive experience with the application, and learned more about marine mammals through their participation. Overall, a majority (more than 70%) of volunteers enjoyed using Whale mAPP, and found it easy to use. In addition, volunteers who used Whale mAPP improved their marine mammal identification skills and made an effort to learn more by reading a book, talking to a friend, or consulting the Internet. I'm encouraged to see that citizen science projects benefit both the participating volunteers and the scientists who are able to use the data for research and conservation.

In addition to the educational benefits of this project, the data collected will be analyzed this winter and spring to create marine mammal (humpback whale, killer whale, etc.) distribution models. Results will be presented at the 2015 Citizen Science Association Conference in San Jose, California.

 

Results from this summer will also be used to prioritize revisions for the mobile application. Our users ranked the following modifications as most important:

  • Include behavioral descriptions and add interesting behaviors unique to Alaska (such as communal bubble net feeding)
  • Drop a pin to mark an animal’s location
  • Allow users to edit sightings recorded during a trip, and after a trip is completed

 

    Hann out on the water with Whale mAPP

    Hann out on the water with Whale mAPP

The Whale mAPP team is eagerly looking for funding to support these alterations to Whale mAPP, so that the application can be improved for future users! 

Thanks again to our dedicated citizen scientists who collected data this past summer, and to everybody who provided support and encouragement along the way. For questions or comments,  please contact me, Courtney Hann, at hannc@onid.oregonstate.edu.

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