April 5, 2012 - The bridge of the Gateway Endeavor, a support vessel that plies Boston Harbor, is crammed with large, plastic navigational charts and sophisticated sonar and radar displays. Now Captain Ronald Lee Hatch has added another device to his array: an Apple iPad loaded with a new app called Whale Alert, which tracks the location of North Atlantic right whales around the area’s most popular shipping lanes.
The free app is designed to reduce the risk of collision between ships and the endangered whales by displaying real-time data from, among other sources, acoustically sensitive buoys that pick up calls from the marine mammals. The data are relayed via satellite to the shipboard device.
Hatch, who said he sees whales regularly as his ship guides LNG tankers through the outer harbor, was monitoring his iPad Wednesday morning, shortly after a press conference to introduce the app. He pointed out two bright yellow icons about 20 miles offshore.