Whale Track is a first-of-its-kind smartphone app, developed by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, which allows anyone to submit marine mammal sightings off the west coast of Scotland.
The Whale Track app uses the technology we all carry in our pockets to quickly and easily record sightings of marine mammals here in the Hebrides.
The west coast of Scotland is a vibrant pocket of marine life, with a quarter of all whale, dolphin and porpoise species recorded in Hebridean waters. But increasing global environmental challenges mean that now more than ever conservation must involve local people. Every Whale Track sighting helps us to better understand the movements of these animals, their behaviours, and measures we can take to protect them.
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Science Officer, Lauren Hartny-Mills, says: "With all eyes on the water, Whale Track is helping gather vital data from local communities.
"Rather than simply educating, the project actively involves people in tracking the movements of coastal species like bottlenose dolphins and unravelling the mysteries of more elusive species like killer whales."
The Whale Track app is free to download and uses GPS to accurately track excursions at sea and record locations of sightings.
Crucially, the app works without phone signal or Wi-Fi, meaning sightings in the most remote areas are not lost.
Local family owned cruise company, Hebrides Cruises, played a vital part in the development of the app. Onboard Wildlife Guide, Lynsey Bland, says: "We use the app on a daily basis on our vessels. Other members of the crew, even the chef, have reported sightings. The data we collect is crucial to understanding and protecting these remarkable animals for future generations."