THE OCEANS ARE CHANGING.  They're warming, becoming increasingly acidic, and sea levels are rising.  Yet, it remains unclear how these perturbations will affect marine biological communities.  Moreover, we lack the baseline data necessary to monitor how marine communities respond to environmental change.  For marine mammals like humpback whales, these baseline data need to be collected over large areas and multiple years to be useful.  Until recently, this was prohibitively costly and time consuming; however, scientists are increasingly turning to citizen-science programs as efficient, low-cost methods to collect large amounts of data.

Citizen-science programs encourage volunteers to participate in research by providing simple means for them to record important field data.  Oregon State University graduate student and AWF biologist Courtney Hann is developing an application for a mobile platform that will allow boaters to record marine mammal sightings, while simultaneously raising their awareness of important conservation issues. Developing such an application is a collaborative process that will rely on the efforts of many volunteers.  Hann hopes to engage boaters, including commercial fishermen, pleasure boaters, and charter vessel operators, through a targeted outreach program at AWF's Center for Coastal Conservation on Baranof Island .

Boaters who visit AWFs outreach center in Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island can download a mobile application that allows them to log marine mammal sightings while cruising the waters of Southeast Alaska

Boaters who visit AWFs outreach center in Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island can download a mobile application that allows them to log marine mammal sightings while cruising the waters of Southeast Alaska


AWF biologist Courtney Hann is hoping that citizen-science will be an effective way to develop regional-scale datasets for monitoring humpback whale populations

AWF biologist Courtney Hann is hoping that citizen-science will be an effective way to develop regional-scale datasets for monitoring humpback whale populations

Citizen Science Blog Posts

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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. 

Alaska Whale Foundation’s citizen-science project is officially underway!

With the 2014 field season fast approaching and new research projects kicking off...