Presentation Abstract

Orca Network’s Whale Sighting Network increases awareness of the Southern Resident orcas and other whales, and fosters a stewardship ethic to motivate a diverse audience to take action to protect Northwest waters. The Network provides hands-on opportunities for the public to report sightings of whales, gathering important data for researchers and encouraging shore-based whale watching and Be Whale Wise boating. The Network improves communication between researchers, agencies and the public, raising awareness about whales and related issues. As people become educated through the network, an ever-increasing amount of data is collected, and the public and researchers are able to share information and learn together about the issues affecting whales and how to better address them. The Sighting Network began informally in the late 1990s, via phone calls to a short list of volunteers. With the advent of email and Facebook, the Network has grown from a handful of people to an email list of 15,000 subscribers and a Facebook page reaching over 141,000 followers from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Additional education is provided by volunteers on the shore watching whales, sharing their knowledge with local residents, and through displays, presentations and events, and our Langley Whale Center on Whidbey Island, WA. We have seen many changes in habitat use and occurrence of unusual species over the decades, most recently the historic decrease in use of Haro Strait by Southern Residents, and a marked increase in Transient/Bigg's orcas and Humpback whales in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The Sighting Network has also actively worked with Stranding Networks and researchers in assisting to locate and track entangled whales or cetaceans out of their usual habitat. Sightings data collected through the Network has been cited in numerous research publications on Southern Resident and Transient/Bigg's orcas, Humpbacks, Gray whales and Fin whales.

Session Title

Posters: Data & Information Management

Keywords

orcas, humpbacks, citizen science, whale sightings, sightings data

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-37

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

Orca network's whale sighting network: citizen science and so much more

Orca Network’s Whale Sighting Network increases awareness of the Southern Resident orcas and other whales, and fosters a stewardship ethic to motivate a diverse audience to take action to protect Northwest waters. The Network provides hands-on opportunities for the public to report sightings of whales, gathering important data for researchers and encouraging shore-based whale watching and Be Whale Wise boating. The Network improves communication between researchers, agencies and the public, raising awareness about whales and related issues. As people become educated through the network, an ever-increasing amount of data is collected, and the public and researchers are able to share information and learn together about the issues affecting whales and how to better address them. The Sighting Network began informally in the late 1990s, via phone calls to a short list of volunteers. With the advent of email and Facebook, the Network has grown from a handful of people to an email list of 15,000 subscribers and a Facebook page reaching over 141,000 followers from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Additional education is provided by volunteers on the shore watching whales, sharing their knowledge with local residents, and through displays, presentations and events, and our Langley Whale Center on Whidbey Island, WA. We have seen many changes in habitat use and occurrence of unusual species over the decades, most recently the historic decrease in use of Haro Strait by Southern Residents, and a marked increase in Transient/Bigg's orcas and Humpback whales in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The Sighting Network has also actively worked with Stranding Networks and researchers in assisting to locate and track entangled whales or cetaceans out of their usual habitat. Sightings data collected through the Network has been cited in numerous research publications on Southern Resident and Transient/Bigg's orcas, Humpbacks, Gray whales and Fin whales.