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There’s one thing in the sea that’s bigger than whales: boats. And unfortunately every once in a while, a boat strikes a whale, causing serious injury or even death.
Every time this happens is a tragedy and to decrease these incidents, and eventually stop them from happening altogether, Washington State Ferries implemented a WhaleReport Alert System, or WRAS. This system works through an app that notifies ferry captains of the whereabouts of orcas and a range of other cetaceans in Puget Sound to help prevent collisions.
The app, created by Ocean Wise Research in Vancouver, British Columbia, is thus far only used by commercial maritime operations, including ships, ferries, and tugboats. But the app relies on data from members of the public who report real-time whale sightings. Once a trusted observer spots a whale, orca, dolphin or porpoise, they submit the siting to the app.
The siting is then verified and the app alerts commercial mariners on the water within 10 miles of the siting.