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Privacy policy

Key terms 

User types

Anonymous user

An Anonymous User is defined as anyone who visits the Whale mAPP website without logging in.

Public user

A Public User is defined as an individual who has created a public account type through the Whale mAPP website and is either logged in to the Whale mAPP website or contributing data using the mobile application.

Expert user

An Expert User is defined as an individual who has requested and been granted an expert account type through the Whale mAPP website and is logged in to the Whale mAPP website or contributing data using the mobile application. Experts must be naturalists on a boat, boat captains, have a degree in marine biology, or have another qualification.

Types of data

Registration data

Registration data includes: first and last name, email, location of use, account type, and a user ID (a combination of first name, last name, and “whalemapp”).

Contributed data

Contributed data is the data contributed by all user types. Data include observations and tracks.  Observation data includes single point location data and non-spatial details associated with the observations (species category, type, number of species, presence of calves, behavior, sea conditions, weather, confidence rating, notes, and corresponding attachments [i.e., photos]).  Track data includes location data (created by using point location every 30 seconds to create a track line for the entirety of a trip), along with start and end times/dates, boat name, and boat type.

Reserved data

A single piece of reserved data gets generated for all contributed data: the unique data ID.  The unique data ID is a string generated using the time (in epoch format), a 16 digit hexadecimal key for the contributing Android device ID, user ID, and a string describing where the data came from – the version of the application is used for data submitted through a mobile device and “WEB” is used for data submitted through the website.

Privacy policy

The purpose of this section is to outline security and the intended use of volunteer and usage data.  For more information on how data use, read the Terms of Use.

Volunteer data

Volunteer data includes registration data, contributed data, and reserved data.  Volunteer data may be used to generate reports or statistics on aggregated usage, profiles of users to show what types of users participate (aggregated and anonymized).

How is registration data used?

Registration data is used to connect you with your collected data. Care is taken to keep your identity safe. Your personal information (email, location of use) will never be shared.

Your user ID will be used as part of a unique data ID. The unique data ID will be made available when a user’s personal contributed dataset is downloaded.

Your email address will be used to inform you of Privacy Policy changes, web app updates, and software releases. If desired, you may request to opt out of any email correspondence (as per CAN-SPAN).

You will never receive marketing emails (as per the E-privacy Directive).

How is contributed data used?

Track and observation data are displayed on the mAPP page (scale:  9028 to 5 ) for use by anonymous, public, and expert users. Public Users can download their own data; all contributed & reserved data is available for download by Expert Users.

How is reserved data used?

The reserved data is intended for database organizational purposes only.  It is exposed, along with contributed data, upon data download.


All contributed data and reserved data submitted is securely stored. Registration data can only be accessed through HTTPS and SSL connections. An application ID is used to connect to the data. The application ID is not specific to the user and alone it cannot be used to access data.

Usage data 

Whale mAPP uses different types of usage data, including: local storage, cookies, and session variables.

Local storage

Local storage is used in two different ways. The first is for accessing the user’s location once they’ve granted permission. When contributing an observation through the website, users have the option of using the browser to find their location rather than manually entering it. Secondly, the user’s unique ID is stored locally in order to change the display, filter map content, and enable the editing of data.


Session cookies are used to uniquely identify users while logged into Whale mAPP. These cookies are required to filter map content and to edit contributed data.

Session variables

A session variable is used to store the region selected for viewing species in the identification section of the Learn page on the website.


Whale mAPP reserves the right to modify or replace any part of the Privacy Policy or Terms of Use documents. However, Whale mAPP is responsible for informing users of updates made to this agreement.