Whale mAPP is a collection of GIS-based web and mobile tools used by researchers and citizen scientists to contribute observations for scientists studying and mapping human impact on marine mammals. It was born out of the University of Redlands by Dr. Lei Lani Stelle and was initially designed and built by Smallmelo’s Melo King as part of her master thesis.
Dr. Stelle and Melo continued the work by applying for a grant from the California Coastal Commission to build beta versions of the Android + web apps. In addition to launching the apps, Melo King and Dr. Stelle contributed a chapter in “Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions” describing the project.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, we are in the process of transitioning the maintenance of Whale mAPP back to the University of Redlands. They are building new versions of the app using Esri’s AppStudio.
The first step in designing Whale mAPP was to flesh out the data model. This involved working closely with Dr. Stelle to understand her existing workflows for capturing marine mammal observations. The data model implemented in Whale mAPP was designed to capture track lines of the user’s boat and the details of their marine mammal observation.
An Android application was designed and built that allowed users to record trips while out on their boat and capture marine mammal observations as they occurred. The app worked offline using Esri’s Ocean basemap.
We collaborated with Crown Chimp to build a website where visitors could learn about the Whale mAPP project and unique species. The site’s map allows users to visualize global observations and track lines and make any necessary edits to their data. The site was built using WordPress to enable Dr. Stelle and her students to maintain their content themselves.
In 2016, we worked with a graduate student to incorporate species distribution maps into Whale mAPP’s Android app. Once completed, the user was presented with a location-specific list of species whose distribution maps intersected the user’s location.