New app aims to consolidate coastal information for ocean lovers

By Steve Gow

A new app is hoping to make it easier for boaters, surfers and ocean-lovers across Nova Scotia to get updated information on wave conditions, tidal currents and other essential coastal concerns.

“The typical mariner would have a handful of bookmarks on their cell phone and pull up different ones for different things,”  says Greg Trowse, CEO of Luna Sea Solutions about how such information has been accessed in the past. “So what we’re working on doing is pulling together all those data sources, plus adding some more.”

With their sights set on advancing technology for understanding coastlines and high-energy tidal environments, Luna Sea Solutions has developed LunaOceans — a web application that will connect people to coastal oceans while “enabling necessary science for coastal resilience and advancing ocean literacy,” according to the group’s news release.

A user-friendly app that allows convenient access to everything from water levels to weather data at the touch of a finger, LunaOceans will be a “one-stop shop for ocean data,” adds Trowse.

Still in the early stages of its development, the LunaOceans app came about through the organizations work with Acadia University and Dalhousie University in ongoing projects in the outer Bay of Fundy.

“Through that work, we collected a massive amount of data (and) this kind of came about as a way to share oceanographic information on tidal currents and then it expanded to waves in part due to the need which we see for the fishing industry as well as our recreational activity,” adds Trowse. “It is still what we consider in the beta-testing phase which is pre-commercial so what we’re asking now is for people to check it out and give us feedback.”

The app isn’t necessarily just for professional oceanographers either. In fact, LunaOceans will also benefit such recreational ocean-lovers as surfers and beachgoers across Nova Scotia.

“That’s kind of the market that we went to first,” admits Trowse, who is a surfer himself. He notes that during recent hurricane activity, the app witnessed a surge of activity from recreational users. “People are just regularly logging on, checking water levels, checking wave conditions (so) that’s just one market that we’ve decided to do really well and hopefully we can be known in other areas of recreational boating.”

Through compiling data from the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and many other organizations, Trowse says the app has great coverage across the province covering all of Nova Scotia’s coastlines.

“We’ve also put beaches and boat launches into the app,” says Trowse, noting the app will allow users to easily filter what layers they wish to see. “Once you pop those up, you can click on any of the beaches that we’ve included and you’ll see the tide prediction for that day.”

As well, LunaOceans is in the process of working with volunteer photographers in order to match great-looking images of locations with the time and date so that users can get a representation of how coastlines appear under certain tidal conditions.

“So if you pull up the app and look at Hirtle’s Beach or Lawrencetown Beach,” adds Trowse, “you’ll see photos of it at low water or high water.”

While anticipation has been growing for the LunaOceans app with early feedback being positive from users, Trowse notes that the technology will progress to help fill additional gaps and provide solutions for exploring coastlines.

“We’ve got pretty decent data in New Brunswick and PEI and Newfoundland too but we’re really just trying to do a great job in Nova Scotia first,” says Trowse. “Then we’ll take that model and roll it out for the rest of Canada’s coast.”

Find the LunaOceans app here.

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