Seabird app to be introduced at Haystack Rock Saturday

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the Friends of Haystack Rock and the Haystack Rock Awareness Program, is launching an interactive, place-based game app, Discover Haystack. The public is invited to attend its launch party at Haystack Rock at 9 a.m. Saturday, in conjunction with the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest. Visit the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest Information Booth and pick up information on how to download the app. Then walk over to Haystack Rock to play the game with others from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Guests staying at the ocean front Tolovana Inn Resort in Cannon Beach  are just a short beach walk to iconic Haystack Rock.

Developed by Discover Nature Apps, the app teaches visitors about the diverse seabirds, marine mammals, rocky shore habitats and creatures of the Oregon Coast. The game includes a GPS-guided nature-based scavenger hunt; the ability for users to post and view field tips and photographs, and the opportunity to share their experiences on social media.

To play the “Discover Haystack” game, users must be at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. People visiting as a group can compete against one another, or families can opt to work as a team. The app also offers opportunities for users to capture photos of their discoveries, including field notes such as where they are seeing tufted puffins or sunflower sea stars. The discoveries, notes and photos are viewable in a digital photo gallery that will be accessible worldwide.

“With this app, we can reach exponentially more coastal visitors and residents with a fun and interactive experience that leaves them with a greater awareness and appreciation of Oregon Coast’s seabirds and their habitats,” said Dawn Harris, visitor services manager for the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Funding for this smartphone app came from a special fund created to benefit seabird species that suffered in the aftermath of the New Carissa oil spill near Coos Bay in February 1999. The freighter ran aground, broke apart and spilled between 70,000 and 140,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil, killing an estimated 2,465 seabirds and waterfowl along the coast.

Source: The Daily Astorian, June 19, 2015

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