A new iPad app that has been in the works for the past year is now available on the iTunes App Store! Whether you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands or just want to learn more about the charismatic mammals that call the coastal waters of Hawai‘i home, The Nai‘a Guide can demonstrate the things you need to know about spinner dolphins and how to help protect them.
Hawaiian spinner dolphins, known locally as nai‘a, are threatened by the continual disruption of their daytime rest in shallow Hawaiian bays. Tourists swim and snorkel right next to the animals, and even try to ride on their dorsal fins. The Nai‘a Guide serves as an ecological conscience for tourists seeking to experience Hawaiian spinner dolphins responsibly. The app provides explanations of the dolphins’ ecology and tips for responsible viewing. Hawai‘i’s approved Dolphin SMART tours are also listed in The Nai‘a Guide so that tourists may choose a sustainable tour that abides by a code of conduct created to have a minimal impact on the animals’ natural rhythm.
Within the app you can watch a video of the complex method that the dolphins use to herd their prey, listen to spinner dolphin whistles, hike down the cliffs of Kealakekua Bay with the researchers, meet a few of the dolphins in the population, and learn how the constant presence of tourists can affect these amazing animals. The Nai‘a Guide will immerse you into a day in the life as a spinner dolphin and help you understand the challenges of their conservation.
The Nai‘a Guide was created in partial fulfillment of my master’s degree at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. For me, creating an app was a process with a steep learning curve. I will never forget sitting down at my desk at the lab last summer with my laptop, an iPad, a giant desktop computer, and a Hawaiian dictionary in front of me, thinking, “Now what?” The Nai‘a Guide had humble beginnings as the Sharpie-scribbled pages of a paper flipchart, but with hours of staring at computer screens, moments of inspiration, lots of help from many talented classmates and scientists, and one trip to Hawai‘i, I could not be more proud of the outcome. This project not only illuminates the conflict in Hawai‘i, it showcases the unique position we are in to share information instantly through mobile technology. My hope is that The Nai‘a Guide will help promote responsible tourism and that in the future, there will be even more applications for the conservation of many species in many spaces.