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Ahoy! New iPad App Helps Ships Steer Clear Of Whales

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A southern right whale surfaces off the coast of New Zealand. Researchers are now hoping that a new iPad app will help ships avoid hitting the endangered species.
Oregon State University (http://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonstateuniversity/5863853395/)
A southern right whale surfaces off the coast of New Zealand. Researchers are now hoping that a new iPad app will help ships avoid hitting the endangered species.

There's an app for everything it seems, and now there's a new iPad app that's helping ship captains avoid hit and runs with whales.

There are only 450 right whales left in existence. Historically, it was hunting that brought these whales to the brink of extinction. But one of the major things killing these whales now is collisions with ships. 

The whales migration routes and breeding grounds intersect with major East Coast shipping routes. A new iPhone and iPad application is now available to let ships know when they are entering areas where right whales may be so those ships can slow down. 

"One of the features of the app is triggered by the acoustic sounds that the right whale is making under water," says Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which helped develop the app. 

"This ipad technology is enabling a right whale essentially to call a captain on the bridge of a ship and alert that captain that they are in the vicinity so that captain can take appropriate action," says Ramage.

You can't use the app to find the exact location of whales, however, and that's by design, according to Ramage. He says this highly endangered species has endured enough contact with humans and doesn't need any more. 

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