SEACAMS is what’s app in Welsh waters
Sustainable Expansion of the Applied Coastal and Marine Sectors (SEACAMS) is an ambitious project to support a whole range of coastal and marine related industries.
The project is designed to support Welsh coastal and marine business through collaboration between academics, individuals and enterprises by assisting research pilots and feasibility studies. The project provides them with access to expertise and facilities they may not have and thus helps to expand the number of jobs and economic activity in the marine sector. SEACAMS is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), part of the Welsh Government.
SEACAMS scientists and the national marine research charity Sea Watch Foundation are working together to develop and test a new electronic system for recording sightings of marine mammals, including dolphins and porpoises. Five boat owners across Wales who regularly take passengers on wildlife watching trips during the summer have been using the system called Dolphin Spotter with spectacular results. In the first four months of operation, it has doubled the numbers of sighting records received by Sea Watch from around the Welsh coast, revealing a more diverse mix of species and their distribution.
Last year, SEACAMS scientists at Bangor University began working with the national marine research and education charity Sea Watch Foundation to develop an electronic system that would accurately record sightings of marine life and their location. The scientists have developed and built an application that runs on Android devices. The application automatically establishes where the boats have travelled, where sightings have been made, and areas along each tour route where there were no sightings. By incorporating sightings from a number of boat operators it also has the potential to reveal areas of the sea where animals are absent.
Five marine boat tour businesses across Wales began using the Dolphin Spotter application in summer 2013. Early results show the application can record data more accurately than conventional methods.
The application uses GPS to pinpoint detail of marine mammal locations, allowing numbers of each species to be recorded very quickly in real time. The results are uploaded automatically to a central database held at Bangor University through the mobile phone network. Dolphin Spotter records sightings at the touch of a button, replacing old fashioned pen and paper methods, which can result in potentially less accurate records of sightings and boat tracks and that require inputting manually at a later date.
Sea Watch is the holder of the largest cetacean database in Europe. Sightings Officer Danielle Gibas has been looking at the data gathered from the Dolphin Spotter app over its first four months of sea trials "This is really exciting, she says. “A consistent dataset for Welsh coastal waters is essential to effectively monitor these animals and the app is helping to create just that by filling gaps in our 2013 dataset.”
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