• heading to the water?


    as you follow your location on NOAA nautical charts, Whale Alert helps identify whales you see.


    sharing sightings on Whale Alert helps rescuers, researchers and mariners, reducing deadly vessel strikes.


    whales face constant human threats, with Whale Alert the power to save them is in our hands.

  • Ship strikes a leading cause of whale mortality.

    Large whales are vulnerable to collisions with all vessel types, sizes, and classes throughout the world's oceans. In California, gray whales are the most commonly reported vessel strikes.  Along the Atlantic coast, it's right whales.  When large vessels such as container ships are involved, the ships crew may be unaware a strike has occurred. As such, the impacts of these collisions with whales is likely under reported. 
    Public whale sightings submitted via Whale Alert help establish speed zones, warnings, and other measures to reduce risks to whales.

    Blue Whales 




    Right Whales 

  • Take Action! 

    Download the app and collect and submit observation data - every individual animal matters.
    Your donation provides critical support for further development of technology, education, research, and outreach.

    Tell your friends 

    Be part of our larger network to see and share your impact with others.  Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #SeeReportSave
  • Why an app? 

    Busy shipping lanes often coincide with whale feeding areas, breeding regions, and migratory routes, presenting an immense  threat to whales. 

    With the free Whale Alert app, mariners and public citizens alike are provided with a user-friendly tool directly on their Apple or Android smart phone that displays whale "safety zones". The app also allows users to report live, dead, or distressed whale sightings to the appropriate response agency; thus making it an important tool for reducing vessel collisions and protecting all whale species.  


    Sightings support

    Whale Alert makes it easy for the public, industry partners and volunteer networks to contribute whale sightings in a simple to use interface. Sightings, once reviewed are visible to others on the app.
    The app automatically sends sightings to a central database which, in turn, is used by leading whale biologists and resource managers to better understand whale feeding and migration patterns and help establish dynamic management areas. 

    Direct connections to first responder networks. 

    Critically, Whale Alert includes the ability to report any live, dead, or distressed whale sightings. The app facilitates phone calls (where required) and directs a report to the correct management professionals for the user's location, enhancing the survivability of whales in distress. 

    How do "Alerts" work? 

    Using built-in GPS technology commonly found in smart phones and tablets, the the app "alerts" users with visual and auditory alerts when they enter active management zones.
    By doing so, Whale Alert makes it easier to navigate the network of overlapping and evolving conservation zones and shipping lanes. 
    The current roster of zones is supplied by various national and state regulatory agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada, US National Park Service, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Oregon Division of Fish and Wildlife. 

    Alert zones: SMA's, DMA's

    Seasonal Management Areas (SMA's) are areas where NOAA requires vessels 65 feet in length or greater to travel at speeds of less than or equal to 10 knots. SMAs along the eastern seaboard of the US will appear as orange-colored displays. If a boat enters a seasonally active SMA, a pop-up will appear stating that the ship should be traveling at the regulated speed.

    Dynamic Management Areas (DMAs) use sightings of multiple whales to trigger temporary, voluntary speed restrictions or advisory notices. DMAs will appear during designated time periods. A pop-up alert providing explanatory details is displayed when entering DMAs.  Voluntary Slow Zones are also displayed.  


    Voluntary Areas to be Avoided (ATBA) in U.S. and Canadian waters in key right whale habitats have been established for ships weighing 300 gross tons or greater.


    Recommended Routes (RR) are paths produced by NOAA (and shown in the app) to help guide vessels through densely populated whale areas. 


    Alert zones: Marine Protected Areas 

    Whale Alert includes US and Canadian National Marine Sanctuaries and other Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that heavily regulate fishing or other vessel activities. Tap on an area to learn more about what is regulated. 
    The bright colors (blue, red) correspond to the type and level of protection to marine life. To learn more about this important resource visit our partner ProtectedSeas who maintains these maps.

    Alert zones: Boston Harbor 

    Whale Alert also uses a state-of-the-art acoustic detection system to warn mariners of the presence of endangered North Atlantic right whales in shipping lanes leading through NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and to and from Boston, Massachusetts. The system is based on buoys that use hydrophones, special software, and satellite communication to identify right whale calls and automatically relay information to mariners.

    Within the app, yellow whale tails indicate that a right whale has been detected within the past 24 hrs and that NOAA recommends a speed of 10 knots or less through the area during that time period.




    Feature:  Reporting

    Mandatory Ship Reporting (MSR) – NOAA requires commercial ships of 300 gross tons and greater to report in when entering designated right whale reporting areas along the US Atlantic Coast. When a ship enters a MSR area, a pop-up display will appear reminding the mariner to report to the US Coast Guard and providing information on reporting procedures.
    Whale Alert greatly simplifies the process by including the MSR notice directly within the app. 

    NOAA PORTS® data 

    Another feature specifically designed to help vessel operators is the inclusion of Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) tide and weather data supplied by NOAA. 
    Where available, PORTS® adds an important situational awareness feature that will help large vessel operators gain the upper hand on a host of environmental conditions affecting their ability to act on whale protection measures. 

  • Network Partners

    Whale Alert is a global effort to reduce ship strikes and other human activities that threaten marine mammals. Network partners provide various areas of expertise including technology, research, outreach, and education to increase the effectiveness of whale conservation and protection measures.


    From the beginning of Whale Alert, ifaw has been its principle champion, financial supporter, and lead NGO for outreach and expansion.  


    Whale Alert's technology stack is developed and maintained by Conserve.IO, a leading provider of conservation mobile technology and data collection for conservation.  
    NOAA Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary was the originating sanctuary of the Whale Alert project. It uniquely leverages acoustic technology to help detect the presence of right whales in the Boston Channel and uses the Whale Alert platform to alert commercial shippers.
    The sanctuary hosts some of the largest aggregations of endangered whales to occur along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

    Whale Alert - West Coast 

    This collaboration includes the five national marine sanctuaries of the West Coast, Conserve.IO, and Point Blue Conservation Science, in coordination with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), with a mission to reduce the number of ship collisions with whales. West Coast national marine sanctuaries encompass 12,843 square miles of marine protected areas around the Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay and Olympic Coast. Sanctuaries use a multi-pronged approach to reducing the risk of whale ship strikes and have committed to activities in research and monitoring, policy and management collaborations, and education and outreach. To learn about new and continuing initiatives led by West Coast sanctuaries and partners, visit the sanctuary website dedicated to reducing ship strike risk to whales. Sanctuaries are host to numerous threatened and endangered whale species such as blue, humpback, fin, sperm, and western North Pacific gray whales among others. These migratory whales rely on the highly productive waters located in the West Coast sanctuaries supplied by the California Current System.
    The North Atlantic Right Whale Sighting Survey (NARWSS) is a NOAA Fisheries program which locates and records the seasonal distribution of North Atlantic right whales off the northeastern coast of the United States. Surveys are conducted aboard a NOAA Twin Otter aircraft year-round that flies systematic track lines within eleven primary survey blocks including Cashes Ledge, Franklin Basin, Georges Basin, Georges Shoal, Great South Channel (SCOPEX North and South), Howell Swell, Jeffreys Ledge, Jordan Basin, Lindenkohl Basin and Stellwagen Bank.

    Canadian Whale Institute

    Channel Island Cetacean Research Unit 

    At Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit (CICRU) we pride ourselves in the daily contribution to cetacean research and understanding the health of the oceans. CICRU is a bio-surveillance research group analyzing the health of the ocean through the health of cetaceans. We believe in "One Ocean, One Health."
    Tidal Energy is teaming up with scientists to better understand the potential impact of tidal turbine power generators on local marine life, including whales and other marine mammals.
    The group is utilizing the Whale Alert platform to survey and track the movements of marine mammals in the proposed ares of development and will be using the platform to monitor the environment on an on-going basis.

    Whale Alert Alaska - National Park Service

    A partnership between NPS Glacier Bay, Whale Alert, NOAA, and the state of Alaska provides in-season daily updates of whale presence to reduce ship strikes in the waters of Southeast Alaska.  Vetted industry members including cruise ship operators and pilots for the Alaska Marine Highway System use whale alert to keep informed of recent sightings.  


    The Ørsted vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy.
    • Since 2006, we have increased the share of green energy in our heat and power generation from 13 to 64%. Now, we have set a new target of more than 95% green energy by 2023.
    • Ørsted is the global leader in offshore wind, responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s installed offshore wind capacity.
    Ørsted is a financial backer of the Whale Alert Project and a key representative of network of energy partners. 


    ProtectedSeas publishes the most comprehensive Marine Managed Area map online and is an active developer of ocean conservation technology.
    ProtectedSeas provides critical technical resources and on-going support of the ever expanding set of Whale Alert projects. 
  • Our Collaborators

  • History 

    The rules and regulations designed to protect right whales are a result of more than 20 years of effort by scientists, government and conservation groups to gather and analyze data on the intersection of whale “zones” and shipping vessel traffic. These risk profiles then resulted in management actions to reduce strike risk and (ideally) allow whales and ships to share the same waters.

    Whale Alert 1.0

    WhaleAlert was first launched in April of 2012 as a free app for iPads and iPhones to display speed zone regulations and whale management areas on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The target audience was the shipping industry and the app focused on easing compliance with existing regulations by displaying these measures on easy-to-read nautical charts with pop-up alerts to serve as reminders when vessels enter regulated areas. The mix of real-time (or near real-time) data projected over the internet to smart phones and tablets made compliance measures much easier to understand and act upon.

    Whale Alert 2.0 

    In addition to protecting right whales, Whale Alert 2.0 incorporated a longer list of threatened and endangered species such as the blue whale, and covered Canadian and US Pacific waters as well, making this tool national and international in scope and impact.

    The ability to submit sightings gave users a direct in the conservation of these species by reporting sightings of live, dead and distressed animals.


    Whale Alert 2.0 also expanded the app to the Android platform.



    Whale Alert 3.0

    Whale Alert 2.0 provided users a way to submit sightings.  Our latest Whale Alert update is all about letting users explore the sightings submitted!  
    Whale Alert now includes sightings from acoustic buoys and gliders, trusted human observers in the protected species observer and whale tour industries as well as sightings from everyday Whale Alert users!