The Critical Components OF WHALEFORCE Members

WHALEFORCE is only as good as its members. The feature of today's yachting community is that it has literally 1,000's of motivated, interested and capable people cruising the oceans of the world. Many of these people are part of the 'Grey Revolution'. They are fit, well educated, reasonably well off, and most often looking for a worth while cause in which to participate.

It is this group of people that WHALEFORCE will recruit as their members.

WHALEFORCE will also involve the international and costal yacht racing and rally community. Every year like minded yachtsmen join rallies which are basically organized cruises on specified routes. WHALEFORCE is already in discussions with Blue Water Rallies Limited for the inclusion of WHALEFORCE in the 2007-2009 Circumnavigation Rally. This will mean that the same group of yachts will travel completely around the world and be making consistent cetacean observations for the WHALEFORCE data base. We are also pursuing participation in rallies in the Atlantic, Pacific and southern oceans as well as races in the Atlantic and Pacific.

Yacht Marinas will also be pursued to promote membership in WHALEFORCE. This will be done by the Ambassador boats.

Members will receive a Training Package, access to the data entry and reporting on the WHALEFORCE Web Page. If the members are part of a Rally or Race a CEI organizer will visit the start of the event where a training session will be provided.

Members will also have access to Software developed by CEI for Whale Identification. This software will be based on CyberTracker (http://www.cybertracker.co.za/index.html). CEI has been actively using this innovative software for over four years.

To identify members of their WHALEFORCE yacht will fly the WHALEFORCE Burgee. This is anticipated to provide significant promotion to the project as a whole and be one of the main ways of recruiting new members.

Finally the new members will sustain the project.



Application Form

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Membership

WHALEFORCE
Membership 

WHALEFORCE members are drawn from the yachting community and can be anyone who can contribute to the monitoring program. WHALEFORCE is run by Cochrane Ecological Institute (CEI) a Canadian Registered Charity. The program is funded by CEI through memberships, advertising on WHALEFORCE materials, sponsorships, funders and its members. By becoming a WHALEFORCE member you are joining a like minded group of dedicated sailors who want to do their part for the environment while enjoying sailing and cruising.

WHALEFORCE members are identified by flying the distinctive WHALEFORCE burgee. Membership included:

1. A WHALEFORCE burgee
2. A set of WHALEFORCE 'Quick Cards' to assist with whale, porpoise and dolphin identification
3. Access to the WHALEFORCE data reports including a quarterly newsletter (hard copy or electronic)4. Access to WHALEFORCE training seminars

You may become a member of WHALEFORCE by filling out the membership form and submitting it electronically or by hard copy along with the $CND 50.00 onetime membership fee.

The responsibility of WHALEFORCE membership is that you conscientiously report all whale, dolphin and porpoise sightings an a regular basis to CEI. This is the only way the data base will expand to the point where the data is meaningful and population estimates can be made.


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Member Training

One criticism of layman driven monitoring programs is that they are not trained to identify the target species. Research at the Nanaimo Biological Research Station, Nanaimo, BC, Canada has indicated that this may not be a significant deterrent to the success of this type of project. In addition for decades the main source of bird cencusing in the western world has been the use of bird counts which are preformed by lay observers. WHALEFORCE will increase the credibility of the program by providing Training packages to all members and by providing training seminars at major participating events and clubs.

Clio Smeeton has over the past 20 years been developing a book on the identification of whales of the world that is specifically geared to yachtsmen/women. It is anticipated that this book will be completed in the ramp up phase (2007-2008) of this program. The book will be provided as part of the training package to Members. In addition there will be identification 'Quick Cards' specific to the oceans of the world. These 'Quick Cards' have already been developed for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans but will be revised and updated under this program. This is one of the major expenses for the program.

The Sightings Forms for the data have also been developed in hard copy and Electronic form. These can either be filled out by hand and mailed to CEI or filled out on the WEB and automatically emailed to CEI. With the expansion of the Web and email in the last decade most all yachts now have Web capable computers on board and nearly all marinas provide Wi-Fi internet connections free of charge. This makes this portion of the program relatively easy once the WEB pages have been developed.

The Training Seminars will be delivered at the start of races and rallies and in participating clubs and marinas. They will be structured over a day and include:

" WHALEFORCE theory.
" Cetacean identification
" Introduction to WHALEFORCE ID material
" Record Keeping
" Sighting Reporting
" CEI Reporting to Members
" Behaviour around cetaceans

Traveling to the sites will be a major expense for WHALEFORCE in the first years but will provide more credibility to the program through the collection of better data. The start of international races and rallies are also media friendly event. Having a WHALEFORCE representative at the starts to talk to the media will highlight the program as well.