Whether you dabble in whale watching—or you consider yourself a fanatic—there is a delightful SMS text messaging service available for those who wish to witness real-time footage of these majestic beasts. The service was created for OrcaLab, a whale research station in British Columbia, and it allows scientists to receive alerts when the northern resident populace of orca returns to the environs of Hanson Island. Best of all, the SMS service is available to the public with the help of the popular media group Explore.org.
Animal observation technology has been around for a few years now but was mostly utilized for scientific research of a particular species. The founder of OrcaLab, Dr. Paul Spong is one of many luminaries who employed techniques to observe whales in their habitat without adversely impacting the environment. When it began in 1972, OrcaLab utilized hydrophones that monitored the sounds that orcas make. More than 40 years later, the research organization continues to innovate with the introduction of live cams.
How It Works
The cameras work like this: an animal moves into the territory of the cams and triggers the motion sensors. The feed is then delivered remotely for researchers to study. Until recently, an observer wishing to see his animal of choice had to sit and wait until the creature wandered in front of the live cam. But the new service has the potential to change everything for observers, only alerting them when pertinent footage comes online.
“Every day you tune into a live cam and observe the natural world in its purest form, you are a scientist,” said the founder of explore.org, Charlie Annenberg. “You can use the live cams to escape stress and simply soothe your soul, to participate in live lectures. You could study the recorded footage and actually become one of the most advanced field scientists in the world.”
Explore.org features live cams from around the world, including countries with diverse ecosystems like China and Kenya. Explore.org’s partnership with OrcaLab has brought its live cam revolution to a new level, however. Though OrcaLab had a webcam in the year 2000, Explore.org has since set up six different cameras in the region, including an underwater recording device. Now consisting of 150 orcas, the northern resident population of killer whales can easily be observed from the comfort of your computer (provided you are near your computer when the text message service alerts you).
One can imagine the impact of the new SMS text messaging service provided by OrcaLab and Explore.org. It is a public service available to any consumer, and because of the popularity of whale watching and orca tracking, the service has come online with a flourish. Before now, no organization had really employed mobile phones as a means to alert observers when a beloved animal comes online. And clearly, consumers are already enamored with the service: in the morning following the launch, Explore.org gained over five hundred new subscribers to its live cam messaging service.