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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Monday 28 July 2014

Whale app to help get the big picture on WA migration

​A new app is now available to encourage users of Western Australia’s coastal waters to assist with whale migration research, by reporting sightings on their smart phones.

Whale Sightings WA can be downloaded for free from iTunes and it enables water users to submit their sightings of whales along the coast. An android version is also being developed.

Department of Fisheries scientist Dr Jason How said the app had been developed in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife to help researchers learn more about whale movement patterns and assist in ongoing work to reduce the potential for entanglements with fishing gear.

“The new app provides a practical way that water users can support researchers in providing information to assist with the safe passage of whales,” Dr How said.

“At present, there is little known about the details of where and when the many species of whales make their journeys through the State’s coastal waters.

“We ask boat users to observe the whale watching guidelines, but to use the app to report whale sightings they make along the WA coast.”

Parks and Wildlife Senior Marine Wildlife Officer Doug Coughran said it was currently estimated that in excess of 30,000 whales travelled along the WA coast each year.  

“Some of these whales get entangled in fishing gear and it can be difficult to disentangle them.  The public’s help through the app will greatly add to our knowledge about whale migration and enables users of the marine environment to play a role in protecting whales,”  Mr Coughran said.

Federal Government funding was secured through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to help make this app possible, and to carry out further research on possible whale entanglement mitigation measures in WA.

Dr How encouraged water users to use the app to begin reporting whale sightings.

“This app has been designed to make it easy to log a whale sighting and if you are not sure what species it might be, there are photos and diagrams to assist you,” he said.

Parks and Wildlife is the lead agency for whale conservation in Western Australia and whale watching guidelines are available from their website at www.dpaw.wa.gov.au.

People are urged to report any sick or injured whales to the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.


Screenshot from the Whale Sightings WA app

Last modified: 28/07/2014 3:13 PM

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