Whale Force

"From space, the planet is blue
From space, the planet is the territory
Not of humans, but of the whale"

~Heathcote Williams, Whale Nation

Our Objective:

TO PROVIDE AN UNBIASED ESTIMATE OF WORLD CETACEAN POPULATIONS
THE MONITORS - CRUISING AND RACING YACHTSMEN/WOMEN


CEI's Maritime History

CEI was started in 1972 by Beryl and Miles Smeeton. Although the initial projects were primarily focus on terrestrial wildlife and ecology, WHALEFORCE was founded by Clio Smeeton in 1986. Clio spent her youth sailing around the world with her parents Miles and Beryl Smeeton, on the yacht Tzu Hang. In 1986, the first international yacht races which had WHALEFORCE participation were the Atlantic Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island One and Two Star races, and shortly after that the Tall Ships joined in but over the past 20 years the bulk of the WHALEFORCE data collected has come from international blue water cruising boats. Increased international interest in the health of the world's oceans and seas coincided with the acquisition by the CEI of Pescadou which is our marine research vessel. CEI also has a Freshwater Research vessel, Penelope, used mainly on the rivers and lakes of Canada for environmental and cultural research.

The CEI (www.ceinst.org ) was founded in 1972 by Miles and Beryl Smeeton, internationally known mountaineers, sailors (Royal Cruising Club Medal for Seamanship, The Bluewater Medal of the Cruising Club of America, Liga Maritima de Chile) and authors. The CEI initiated the successful reintroduction of the extirpated swift fox, Vulpes velox, back onto its native habitat in Canada. This programme resulted in the first successful reintroduction of an extirpated carnivore in North America. The CEI is the only organization in Canada breeding the swift fox for reintroduction

Miles and Beryl were both authors. Beryl wrote two books of her travels, Winter Shoes in Spring Time and Stars are My Blanket. Miles wrote nine books, Once Was Enough, Because the Horn Is There, The Sea is Our Village, Misty Islands, Sunrise to Windward, Moose Magic, Completely Foxed, A Taste of the Hills, A Change of Jungles. After his death Clio Smeeton published his collection of pomes to his grand children Aligator Tales. Miles' last book has never been published, it is his account of his trip in the late 1970's through the NorthWest Passage aboard a Canadian Ice Breaker. For Miles this journey gave him the distinction of sailing all the seas of the world.

The full Smeeton Story can be found in High Endeavours by Miles Clark.

Tzu Hang
Smeeton's 47' Ketch

Penelope
CEI's Freshwater Research Vessel
22' Chestnut Freighter Canoe
PescadouCEI's Marine Research Vessel12 m. Motor sailer

WHALEFORCE CONCEPT

WHALEFORCE is designed to produce an unbiased cetacean (whales, dolphins, porpoises) population assessment. The method we use is similar to those that have been used successfully for years to assess bird populations; Bird Counts. The data collected through Bird Counts is accepted by the scientific community, and data collection depends upon organizers to arrange for groups of interested amateurs to count birds over the same piece of countryside and the same time of year, year after year. WHALEFORCE is like a Bird Count on the sea, data is collected by interested people crossing the same stretch of sea at the same time each year. Because most sailors find it hard to identify different cetacean species WHALEFORCE provides cetacean identification sheets especially designed for identifying cetaceans from yachts. I.D. sheets and situation and data entry sighting slips, are provided to yachtsmen/women participating in blue water rallies, off shore and coastal races, and people "just messing about in boats". To keep the program sustainable there is a small charge to participants. This data is then transmitted to CEI where it is organized, stored and analyzed.

Whale Identification and CyberTracker

As mentioned above a book for the identification of whales of the world is in preparation for WHALEFORCE. In addition there will be the production of 'Quick Cards' to assist in identification from the deck of a yacht.

The Book - The art work and a most all of the research for the Identification Book has been completed for this project. What remains is to finish the research and proceed to set up publishing. The book will approach identification based on what will be seen from the deck of a yacht with emphasis on 'blows', behavior, fins, colour, distinguished markings, etc.
The book will be supplemented with a series of 'Quick Cards' specific to oceans of the world. When WHALEFORCE was first established the on board identification was assisted by a series of identification sheets sponsored by Canadian Airlines. There were, for example, five sheets of two sided 11"x17" paper for the cetaceans of the Atlantic. It was found that these were not a suitable format for yachts so this version will be printed on waterproof 'quick cards' with one species per card.
Whale Identification Software - Over the past four years CEI has been using Cybertracker software (http://www.cybertracker.co.za/) on many of their terrestrial projects. This software, which is programmable, can be used to developed an intuitive identification system for cetaceans based on the features that you commonly see from the deck of a yacht. The software when used on a computer system linked to a GPS receiver (desktop, laptop or PDA) can also record and automatically add observations to a data base that can then be downloaded directly to the CEI global database for sightings.
CEI will use the information and research from the WHALEFORCE book and 'Quick Cards' to develop this identification software. The fact that a high percentage of our member yachts will have a laptop on board will make this a highly attractive option for filling out the sighting cards and then transferring the sighting data to CEI.

Situation and Sighting Form

There are two ways to report observations to WHALEFORCE,

  Scan your sheet and email to CEI for inclusion in the data base, or else Hard copy forms have to mailed to CEI where they will be manually entered into the dat base. If you have pictures of your sightings that you would like to share we will also include these in the data base. The can be emailed to whaleforce@ceinst.org or sent as hard copy which will then be scanned and entered into the data base.

The WHALEFORCE address is:

Box 484 Cochrane, Alberta, Canada T4C 1A7

+1 403 932 5632


Whale Identification

WHALEFORCE has two tools to assist with the identification from the deck of a yacht:

1. 'Quick Cards'

2. WHALEFORCE Identification software 

QUICK CARDS - The 'Quick Cards' are an 8.5" X 11" book containing a user friendly key to identify most of the cetaceans of the world.  It is divided into three distinct groups based on the size of the cetacean as compared to your yacht or dingy.  The identification features for the individual species are based on features as seen from the deck of a boat. They include blows, behavior, fins, colour, distinguished markings. The 'Quick Cards are a part of the WHALEFORCE package for members.  Here is an example of a 'Quick Card'.

WHALE IDENTIFICATION SOFTWARE - Over the past four years CEI has been using Cybertracker software https://www.cybertracker.org/ on many of their terrestrial projects. This software, which is programmable, can be used to developed an intuitive identification system for cetaceans based on the features that you commonly see from the deck of a yacht. The software when used on a computer system linked to a GPS receiver (desktop, laptop or PDA) can also record and automatically add observations to a data base that can then downloaded directly to the CEI global database for sightings.

CEI will use the information and research from the WHALEFORCE book and 'Quick Cards' to develop this identification software. The fact that a high percentage of our member yachts will have a laptop on board will make this a highly attractive option for filling out the sighting cards and then transferring the sighting data to CEI.