Celebrating a Year of Whale Track!

 The HWDT team are jumping for joy over Whale Track's success!

The HWDT team are jumping for joy over Whale Track's success!

Now a year on from its launch, Whale Track, HWDT’s community sightings app and website, is going from strength to strength, creating a growing community of citizen scientists monitoring whales and dolphins on the west coast of Scotland. The new infrastructure has helped almost double the rate sightings are reported to HWDT and Whale Track now has a staggering 651 users, who have recorded over 3,550 sightings and 24,055 animals. The sightings reported are helping to track the movements of coastal species like bottlenose dolphins and unravelling the mysteries of more elusive species like humpback whales and killer whales. The project was made possible thanks to a generous grant of £79,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Whale Track is a first of its kind smartphone app using the technology we all carry in our pockets to allow anyone to quickly and easily record sightings of marine mammals in the Hebrides. The app is free to download (Google PlayApp Store) and uses GPS to accurately track excursions at sea and record locations of sightings. Crucially, the app works without phone signal or WiFi, meaning sightings can be recorded even in the most remote areas. 

Some incredible sightings have been logged on Whale Track over the last year with highlights including a super pod of common dolphins seen by Nature Scotland during an aerial whale-watch, sightings of John Coe, the most famous and distinct killer whale of the threatened West Coast Community group and this curious humpback whale seen last month by Alan and Kirsty Moore whilst out kayaking near Oban. 

 

Whale Track has also been named as a finalist in the Best Environment project category in the 2018 National Lottery Awards, the annual search for the people’s favourite National Lottery-funded projects. The awards aim to celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with National Lottery funding. 

Whale Track beat off stiff competition from over 700 other projects to reach the public voting stage. Winners will receive a £5,000 cash prize, which will provide valuable funds to further develop the Whale Track app. Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, HWDT's Science and Policy Manager who led the development of Whale Track says;

It would mean the world to us if Whale Track won a prestigious National Lottery Award! It would be an incredible acknowledgment of the contribution hundreds of people have made to Whale Track helping provide vital data to help us to better understand whales and dolphins on the west coast of Scotland.

If Whale Track wins, we would be able to add new features to the app allowing photographs to be uploaded with sightings. Using photographs from the community we have learnt that some minke whales have returned to the Hebrides every year for over a decade and that John Coe can travel from Mull to Skye overnight!
— Dr Lauren Hartny-Mills, HWDT science & policy manager

If you share our love of these amazing animals, please vote for Whale Track to win Best Environment Project 2018! There isn't long left to go now, with voting closing at midnight on Friday 27th July. You can vote using any of the methods below and you are allowed one vote, per person, per method, so everyone gets three votes in total! 

-    Online; https://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/whale-track 
-    Phone; 0844 836 9689
-    Twitter; tweet using #NLAWhaleTrack

The Trust is extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all of it’s players who raise funds to make projects like Whale Track possible, and to every single person who has contributed to the project.