A former Silicon Valley venture capitalist and his son have developed a "citizen science" app they believe will transform how marine species such as dolphins are tracked along the WA coast.
Tom McMurray, whose firm helped fund the likes of Yahoo and Google, has been in WA with son McCain this week, travelling from Coral Bay to Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula to find test sites for the app's rollout.
Using social media tools including Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr, people will be asked to upload photos of whales, dolphins, manta rays, turtles and whale sharks they spot off the coastline to an interactive online map.
Scientists will use the map to target biodiversity "hotspots".
The app is expected to be used by fishers, indigenous ranger groups and residents of regional and remote towns and communities.
Dr McMurray, founder and president of the Marine Ventures Foundation, devotes his time to supporting worldwide conservation work through provision of cutting-edge technology to support citizen science.
McCain, who is completing a masters degree in geographic information science at the University of Queensland, adapted existing mapping technology used to address environmental disasters for the marine science research.
The team has partnered with the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit and has also been in discussions with the Swan River Trust about using the app to record sightings of dolphins.