CAT2015: Sails for Whales

Project plan

Whale encounters often belong to the highlights of a sailing voyage. However, although  much is still unknown about size and distribution of whale populations, sailors hardly contribute to the understanding of their fellow seafarers. Observations of distant blows, a raised fluke or a surfacing dark body don’t offer clues for a trustworthy determination by non-specialists. Even though observations are registered more or less systematically, they are mostly ignored by marine biologists, unless accompanied by hard evidence like photographs.
It’s the sailors’ nature to skim the surface of the sea continuously, relying on eyesight and binoculars. But whale species are best observed by hearing instead of vision. Whale sounds are species specific, can be heard over great distances and are never obscured by darkness or a high sea. Instead of binoculars to improve vision, sailors should use a hydrophone to improve their underwater hearing.
A hydrophone coupled to a smartphone or tablet with dedicated whalesound recognition software and data recording and messaging facilities (sound-data, gps, time) could offer a valuable tool for registering undisputed whale observations. Provided the hydophone-tablet arrangement is designed properly and handy to use, sailors are expected to gladly embrace the opportunity to register more and better documented whale observations. Besides contributing to our knowledge of vulnarable whale populations, which is essential for any adequate whale protection programme, use of a hydrophone arrangement offers a new dimension and a challenging new goal to pleasure yachting.
Sailors crossing seas and oceans,
listen to whales, our fellow seafares,
recording their specific sounds,
to monitor where they live and how they are,
supporting knowlegde to preserve their future.

Tijdens de pakweg duizend uur op zee wordt onderzoek gedaan naar het voorkomen van walvissen.
Het project SailesForWhales beoogt de ontwikkeling van een handzame hydrofoon en app speciaal voor zeiljachten om walvissoorten op te sporen, te herkennen en in een centrale database te registreren. Juist zeiljachten, die min of meer kriskras over de zeeën zeilen en zonder verstorend motorlawaai uitstekende luisterposten vormen, zijn in staat om kennis over de staat en verspreiding van walvissen te verzamelen.