Pat Halpin head shot

Pat Halpin

Mapping the Marine Environment

Thanks to Pat Halpin and his crew at the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” no longer applies when it comes to protecting the world’s oceans and the species and resources found there.

The geospatial mapping software, visualization tools, and interactive databases developed in Halpin’s lab have revolutionized our ability to track the distribution and seasonal movements of marine species and reduce their risk of vessel strikes, entanglements in fishing gear, and other harmful run-ins with human activities.

These tools include the MiCO system, an online global database that maps the movements of sea turtles, whales, sea birds and other migratory species through the open ocean; and OBIS-SEAMAP, a searchable repository of mapped data from more than 7.7 million sightings of 734 species.

Lab members work closely with conservation groups, governments, industry groups and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme to develop and disseminate the tools they create. The aim, says Halpin, professor of marine geospatial ecology, isn’t just to make software, it’s to make a difference.