New app to spot whales, and save them - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New app to spot whales, and save them

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SAN FRANCISCO(CBS 8) - Scientists in the Bay Area are testing out a new app that may help protect whales.

The Spotter Pro app is designed to track whale sightings and help prevent the mammals from being struck by ships traveling in and out of San Francisco Bay.

A growing problem in the ocean may be getting some help from evolving technology. In 2010 at least four whales were struck and killed by ships in the Bay Area. Now Point Blue Conservation Science is putting a solution into the public's hands.

"When they go whale watching, when they are fishing, when they are looking for wildlife from a lighthouse out in the ocean, we want everybody to be our eyes out there in the water," Dr. Jaime Jahncke of Point Blue Conservation Science said.

Once you open the app, it logs your location via GPS. So when you're in the ocean and you spot a whale, you save the coordinates on your phone. Researchers hope the most frequent users will be the ones in the ocean every day.

"We're trying to...encourage people that work in the whale watching industry, recreational fishing industry, and some of the local fishermen to work with us," Jahncke said.

It can be tough keeping track of the whales as 7,300 large ships move through the Bay Area every year. Point Blue says the app could create a network so big they'll be able to protect whales year-round.

"We will know when the animals are coming up north, migrating up the coast and we'll be prepared within the San Francisco Bay Area, even before they approach," Jahncke said.

The app is available right now, and Point Blue hopes to have its network fully up and running by next year. Eventually they'd love to move resources into the San Diego area as well.

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