If you live around the Chesapeake and head out on the water from time to time, you’ve probably heard about Chesapeake DolphinWatch, a mobile app created by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) to crowdsource information about dolphins in the Bay.
Regular Bay-goers like you can download the app and report dolphin sightings with photos, video, time and location, in order to inform biologists about the habits of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Chesapeake.
The app is now five years old and has exploded in popularity since it launched (the pandemic helped too, as people spent lots more time on the water rather than travel to faraway destinations). DolphinWatch citizen scientists have gone out with professional-level cameras—or just their smartphone —and captured stunning images of dolphins at the surface.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of DolphinWatch, Dr. Helen Bailey and her team announced they’ve compiled some of the best pictures they’ve received into a photo book. Dr. Bailey tells Bay Bulletin the team is making final tweaks and edits and the book is expected to be ready by the end of September.
It’s meant as a tribute to the citizen scientists who have taken time to document their dolphin sightings.
“We are so grateful to our DolphinWatchers and all that they have done to support the project and research! This book is a thank you to them,” Bailey tells us.
It will be available for print-on-demand from a printing company, because Chesapeake DolphinWatch doesn’t have specific funds to print and distribute the book. The program won’t receive any commission from the book sales, but Bailey says they do accept donations through their University Foundation (http://bit.ly/dolphinwatch-donate). They plan to use some of the money from those donations to print and donate copies of the photo book to schools and libraries in the Chesapeake region.
App users will be notified as soon as the book is ready, so using DolphinWatch is a good way to get updates about the book. You can also keep an eye on the Chesapeake DolphinWatch Facebook page.
If you’re wondering about your best chances to do your own dolphin-spotting in the Bay, the program says the Potomac River has been a popular spot for dophins, but they’ve also been documented recently near the Bay Bridge, and in the Chester, York and Miles rivers.
–Meg Walburn Viviano