Piers and I attended a Dolphin Watch training session on the South Perth foreshore last Thursday, supporting the team from the Swan River Trust (SRT). At least 50 volunteers turned up for the two-hour session, which concentrated primarily on use of the Dolphin Watch app and the various methods for accurately submitting sightings.
Here are a few common questions answered or explained.
Where do I get it?
You can get the Dolphin Watch app for free from the iTunes or Google Play stores by clicking on either of the buttons below.
I can’t use the Dolphin Watch button!
In order to undertake a time-based dolphin watch track, it is necessary to register as a River Guardian, complete the training, receive a Dolphin Watch ID, and enter it into the app. Details about becoming a River Guardian are available on the River Guardians web site. However, ad hoc sightings of dolphins can be made as soon as you download the app.
How do I record dolphin sightings?
There are two independent ways of observing and recording dolphins in the app – ad hoc sightings and zone-based observations over a time period.
The ‘Record a Dolphin’ button (top left in the app) is for ad hoc sightings – a simple way of recording a dolphin observation with a geocode, date and time with the option of submitting a photo or short video and some basic general information.
The ‘Dolphin Watch’ button (top right) tracks your observations over a period of time, such as a stroll by the river, and records more detailed observations at the end of the period into a ‘zone summary’ – even if you haven’t observed any dolphins. The Swan and Canning rivers are divided into 33 zones and a zone summary aggregates zero or more sightings for that observation period in that particular zone.
What if I don’t see any dolphins?
Recording that you didn’t see any sightings of a dolphin is very important data! Absence data greatly assists ecologists in more accurately modelling dolphin distributions and correlating habitat preferences with specific behaviours.
How do I send my records to you?
The ‘Review and Upload’ button (bottom left) shows you a map of the individual observations you have made, initially with a small red dolphin icon. Selecting one of these icons shows a small box saying ‘Bottlenose Dolphin’ which, when clicked on, provides the record data for you to review and correct if required. You can even add an image to a record if you hadn’t had a chance to originally.
Once you are happy that all your records are correct and ready to upload, you can click on the button below the map ‘Upload records’, which sends the data via the internet to the Biological Data Recording System (BDRS) server where all records are aggregated. Optionally, you can use the slider below the button to keep or delete the records from your phone, but this will only happen after the data is successfully uploaded to the BDRS.
When’s the next training?
The next Dolphin Watch training session is being held on Wednesday, 26 August 2015 6:00pm to 8:30pm.
How do I get involved in Dolphin Watch?
More information about becoming a Dolphin Watcher and attending training sessions can be found on the River Guardians web site.