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Smartphone Apps


Teachers, students, beachgoers, researchers and others can now view a wealth of information about central California marine life through a new iPhone and iPad application released by NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The free "SeaPhoto" app, the first of its kind for the region, includes more than 1,300 photos of marine life, some with detailed ecological information.

"People connect to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in so many ways, said Paul Michel, sanctuary superintendent. "We are proud to be able to facilitate this virtual use in an instructive way through cutting-edge technology."

In addition to the photos of more than 550 species of marine life, the mobile app includes an extensive, searchable glossary of common and scientific names. Users can save their favorite photos and share them via Twitter and email. The app also provides general information about the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and links to the sanctuary's web site and its YouTube channel. Developed in partnership with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, SeaPhoto can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App store onto an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The app is a mobile extension of an even larger online photo library that currently contains over 4,200 photos of seascapes and marine life that can be accessed at These photos can be downloaded for free for non-commercial use.


image of iOS app Experience California screen shotsExperience California

The sights, sounds, history and natural wonders of California's coast are highlighted in a new iPhone/iPad application released by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The National Marine Sanctuaries: Experience California mobile app provides users the ultimate utility in planning their next vacation in and around Monterey Bay, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. The app features points of interest for more than 600 locations across the Monterey Bay, Gulf of the Farallones, Channel Islands, and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. It covers more than 8,600 square miles of federally protected ocean and coastal waters stretching from Big Sur to the Farallon Islands.

"This app is an innovative way to experience the richness of California's underwater national parks in the palm of your hand," said John Frawley, President and CEO of Aquarium of the Bay and The Bay Institute. "Visitors to places, like San Francisco Bay, will be able to learn about our national marine sanctuaries located just offshore. In addition, families, teachers and students will now have another tool to use to nurture the young minds of America's future marine stewards."

For each sanctuary, the app provides general information including travel tips, current weather, visitor center locations, hours, and more. The app also features a searchable encyclopedia, glossary and photo galleries that bring the sanctuaries and their habitats to life. Detailed maps allow users to locate sanctuary points of interest, filter them by activity, get directions from their current location, add them to a list of favorites, and share the information on their social networks. Visitors can tag locations on the map with their own photos and comments, as well as share them with other app owners.

"The Experience California app provides users with an all-in-one visitor's guide to some amazing places in the marine environment that anyone can use to create vacation memories that last a lifetime," said William Douros, West Coast Regional Director, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "We're very excited and pleased to present this app to the public."

Whale Alert

The updated free Whale Alert app now supports reporting of whale sightings by the maritime community and the broader public. This information is shared in real-time with leading whale researchers and state and federal management authorities. In some cases, whale sightings will trigger confirmation “over-flights” by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or the United States Coast Guard (USCG) who will then determine whether or not temporary speed restrictions should be created (Dynamic Management Areas).

Whale Alert helps reduce the chance of fatal ship strikes by large vessels by displaying active whale management areas, required reporting areas, recommended routes, areas-to-be-avoided and near real-time warnings in shipping lanes along both coasts of the United States and Canada. This information allows vessel operators to avoid collision with whales by slowing down and heightening their visual awareness.

screen shot of whale alert app showing map screen shot of whale alert app shoing list of types of whales screen shot of whale alert app showing "take action" page
Screen shots of Wale Alert on Apple iPhone

“Whales are important both ecologically and economically, but they continue to face a variety of threats including ship strikes,” said Michael Carver, deputy superintendent of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “Whale Alert allows citizens to provide data scientists can use to inform management and better protect whale populations.”

The app uses GPS, Automatic Identification System, Internet and NOAA nautical charts to provide mariners with a single source of information about whale locations and conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity. New features include information about California Marine Protected Areas, PORTS® (Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System) tide and weather data and the ability for the public to report whale sightings to databases that NOAA and whale biologists use to map whale habitats and migration patterns.

Whale Alert data collected by citizen science and scientists are currently available online at the Whale Alert - West Coast website. “More is usually better when it comes to data,” said Jaime Jahncke, Point Blue Conservation Science lead on the project. “Whale Alert allows us to crowd source data collection, so that as scientists we have more information available to help protect whales from ships.”

Whale Alert is a collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector companies, led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. They include: Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Boston Harbor Pilots, Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, Conserve.IO, Excelerate Energy, EOM Offshore, Gaia GPS, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Massachusetts Port Authority, NOAA Fisheries Service, National Park Service, Cape Cod National Seashore, Point Blue Conservation Science, NYK Line (North America), United States Coast Guard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The complete press realease can be seen here.
Reviewed: September 08, 2023
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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