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Whales on the West Coast

Once thought doomed to extinction, whale populations that travel up and down the West Coast are now abundant again (although still officially “endangered”). Sadly, though, both ships and pleasure craft occasionally collide with cetaceans in near-shore waters. 

Once threatened with extinction, whale populations are on the rise, but ship strikes remain a problem.

© John Calambokidis / Cascadia Research

Since 1988 more than 30 whales of various species have been confirmed killed by ships near San Francisco Bay, and it is believed that those recorded strikes account for only a small fraction of all strikes near the Bay Area. The International Whaling Commission has documented hundreds more. Meanwhile the development of a new Whale Spotter app for tablets and smartphones may soon have a positive impact on this problem. Now being developed, and soon to be released via the iTunes Store, the app is intended to let ‘citizen scientists’ keep track of whale sightings, and share their data with the scientific community. The results of this . . . dare we call it crowd-sourced research . . . is expected to be a great benefit to researchers in confirming cetacean travel patterns and affecting related policies. 

We haven’t seen the app on the site yet, but if it is released before this fall’s southbound migration to Mexico, it could  be a benefit to West Coast sailors also. Off the top of our heads we can recall at least three times in recent years when sailboats collided with whales on Mexico’s west coast. 

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Luna Rossa with her afterburners on, apparently about to jibe. She may not have looked so hot against the Kiwis during the LVC Round Robin races, but her team is steadily improving, having clocked the fastest course time yet in Wednesday’s race.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Will and Sarah Curry of the Vancouver, BC-based Beneteau First 405 Hydroquest recently had an up-close-and-personal look at a group of humpback whales during their visit to Tonga.