All the creatures on earth have a place in the cycle of life and in the world’s food chain. If one creature’s existence is compromised, every other creature in the environment will feel the impact in a negative way. Whales are one of the largest and majestic creatures on earth, they have long faced threat on top of threat to their mere existence. They are in danger by the whaling industry, dealing with ship strikes, entanglement in nets and fishing gear meant for other fish, global warming, noise pollution, environmental pollution and sonar from ships in their water. Yes “their” water because the ocean is home to all of our fish, our ships are just in their territory for human sake and benefit. Whales mature slowly, the impact of even a single death will have long reaching effects for the future of that species, and thus impacting the environment as a whole.
The Whaling industry is the most direct threat to the future of more than 80 species of whales that are known exist . In previous centuries, the whaling industry was a large source of food products, whale oil, even perfume. All of these products have now either fallen out of favor with consumers or are capable of being synthetically produced. One new and less menacing industry concerning the whale that has emerged is that of whale watching. This is the practice of observing whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. It has become quite popular and many people are becoming aware of the excursion. The threat to whales is not great, except for the disruption of the peaceful existence the whales maintain caused by the tourists. There is the possible ship strike during the whale watching, but ship strikes are now the leading danger to whales. The amount of vessels in our seas and the large size of whales are not a good match. Whales have been threatened by the whaling industry for so long that they are now (especially the blue whale) struggling to regain their numbers which were driven close to the point of extinction.
Technology has a new idea on the menu for helping our sea-worthy friends. The Whale-Spotter App is a new smartphone app that is trying to be developed. It’s a modern, crowd-sourcing approach to an old problem. The Ports of the San Francisco Bay area very busy, more than 7300 large ships head through the Golden Gate each year. Just outside the bay, whales swim along the continental shelf, they do this often because this location has plentiful food supply. Recently this year several dead whales, including an endangered fin whale, have washed ashore in the bay area believed to be killed by ship strikes. At this present time we are able to keep track of where the ships are, but not the whales, sadly threatening their habitat.
The “Whale Spotter” app would allow marine scientists, fisherman and sailors who spot whales to have their location plotted on an interactive map. The maps created can then be used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard officials to recommend different vessel routes. The idea behind the app is to create a network of whale spotters off California’s coast so the marine mammals can be tracked in “real time” as they migrate. The app has a big hurdle because cell phone coverage at sea is spotty at its best, so data may be delayed to a point where it’s not immediately helpful. However, the GPS on phones is being constantly tracked by satellite, so the phone’s location can be tracked. After tests and completion of the app, it will make a difference by bridging a gap in data about whale location.
This idea is exciting and will help make a difference in whale population. As per Leann Kennedy, the biggest threat to the environment is, and always has been, man’s greed and false assumption that every element of nature is available to be used, squandered, and plundered at will. Nature has a way of creating equilibrium to the environment, if left to its own devices.