Thursday, 19 June 2014


I attended the second half of a Whale Watching Training workshop held 16-17Jun2014 in Freeport, Digby County, Nova Scotia, Canada, organized by Fundy Tidal Inc.

My personal interest focused on the use of mobile Apps to monitor marine mammals and other species. The geographic area of interest was Digby Neck. Two specific tools were demonstrated: Spotter Pro and Whale Alert.

Google Map Link: Digby Neck and area, Nova Scotia

Why is this type of workshop important ?

In a rural environment, this encourages ‘citizen science’. With this technology, participants can share their experience with a global audience. Local observations on components of the environment that they value (i.e. marine mammals, sea birds, sharks, sea turtles) can be linked to a global understanding of the state of the oceans.

This workshop was based on collaboration between marine scientists, tidal energy engineers, tourism operators and local residents.

What is the larger opportunity ?

The opportunity is to transcend disciplinary boundaries and encourage a science-based approach to resource management. It fits under the ‘creative rural’ rubric, by bringing local knowledge together with global technology. It is designed to meet multiple objectives: marine science, experiential tourism and environmental monitoring. Most important, it demonstrates a collaborative approach to environmental problem solving.


Before making too many entries under the ‘creative rural’ heading, it is perhaps appropriate to define a few terms.

What is the distinction between ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ ?

By ‘rural’, I mean a sense of space, proximity to natural processes, as they influence humankind, plants, animals, climate. I expect a visibility of landscape: I can see across the Annapolis valley to South Mountain. I have a certain understanding about the density of activities, in terms of human processes, the partitioning of space.

The term is not being used negatively towards ‘urban’, simply emphasizing the distinction.

How does this relate to ‘creative rural ‘?

There are opportunities for contemplation, an ability to be holistic, to not separate the physical and the mental. ‘Creative’ here means new ideas (new thinking), new technologies and new applications of technology to address complex problems in a non-reductionistic way. We are not separating out business interest from environmental interest. We are not separating local from global. We recognize a nested hierarchy of scale: community (local) – county – region – province – country – Earth (global).

-- Dr Bob Maher, research scientist

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