An effort to gather crucial whale data

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Jan 26 2014 06:23:34 PM HST
Updated On: Jan 26 2014 08:30:04 PM HST

The Whales Without Borders database project is asking volunteers to count and take pictures of each whale they spot to help researchers collect data about population counts and migration patterns.

HONOLULU -

At the peak of whale watching season, a group of whale watchers is trying to gather crucial data one click at a time. But, they need everyone's help.

Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's story.

Each click of Gordon Snyder's camera means one more data point to add to the Whales Without Borders database. Once a month during peak whale season from January to March, volunteers across the state gather to count and take pictures of each whale they spot.

"It gives us a much bigger database of where the whales are in the world and what they are doing right now. There is a maximum of 500 people studying whales in different capacities," said Snyder.  

But, the group's goal is to have millions of people worldwide snap pictures every time they see a whale then send the photo to them. Each digital photo contains a date, time and location that helps researchers understand the population and how it migrates.

"That will build a database to show us as the whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii or down from Alaska to Mexico. It will show us the population as they move down the coastline," said Snyder.

"The more people (who) are interested all over the world, the more likely the whales will survive and live longer," said Terry Campbell.

He added, "Even watching a whale breach in a movie or film is pretty exciting but to see a whale breach in person is something special."

The volunteer lookout days are set for every fourth Saturday. There are 20 locations on Oahu alone. Go to www.whaleswithoutborders.com for more information.

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