Mobile data collection to understand tourists during Whale Festival

Humpback whales are magnificent creatures. In the rural coastal community of Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, humpback whales from both the northern and southern migrations visit to have their offspring and teach them how to swim.

Each September since 2008, the community of Bahia Ballena has organized the Festival of Whales and Dolphins to celebrate these magnificent creatures. Each year, the Festival has increased in size. This year more than 5,000 tourists, over the course of three weekends, took boat tours out into the oceans for a chance to see these animals surfacing, and at times jumping out of the water.

With the Festival growing in size and more people becoming aware of the event, Festival organizers wanted to understand where tourists were visiting from and if it was their first festival. Organizers already do community-to-community marketing with flyers and interviews on the national news programs.

Survey123 for ArcGIS on Mobile Phones

Survey123_WhaleFestival_2015During the 7th Annual Festival of Whales and Dolphins in September of 2015, a small group of four high school students worked with Geoporter to map where tourists came from using Survey123 for ArcGIS. A simple survey was created in both Spanish and English to inquire where people came from, how many were in the group, if it was their first time at the Festival.


Where Did Festival Tourists Come From?

A total of 292 surveys were conducted over 6 days. These surveys captured the location of 1,615 individuals.

  • Of 1,650 people, 1,549 (96%) were from Costa Rica
  • 66 (4%) were from one of 7 countries

Festiva2015_CountryBreakoutOf the 1,549 visitors from Costa Rica, they came from 81 different cantons, and 7 different provinces.


  • The following Cantons had more than 50 people attend the festival of the course of the three weekends:


A final report (English and Spanish) was submitted to the Organizers of the Festival for use for planning and marketing for 2016. Those who used Survey123 are developing other ideas to gather data that will help them better understand their community.

Dale un Sábado Cada Mes a Tu Comunidad: Sábados de Surf y Servicio

Sabados_Surf y Servicio espanol

Dale un sábado a nuestra comunidad para que sea un lugar mejor. A partir de ahora hasta agosto de 2016, únase a al programa Sábados de Surf y Servicio en PNMB para hacer servicio comunitario. Para aquellos que participan en la actividad de servicio, se ofrecerán clases de surf, centrándose en la juventud. También tendremos fútbol en la playa o simplemente disfrutar de la playa con otros participantes. Las actividades de servicios varían por mes, pero el servicio se enfocará en el mantenimiento de los árboles sembrados en el parque como parte del proyecto Semilla de Ballena, haciendo limpiezas de playas, y ayudando a proteger nuestras costas.

Todos están bienvenidos a unirse!! Si usted desea colaborar mensualmente y convertirse en un amigo de esta Iniciativa de Sábados de Surf y Servicio por favor escribir al correo de AmyWork – amy (at)

Apreciamos mucho la generosidad de nuestros colaboradores y esperemos su participación.

Los últimos colaboradores:

Artifice;  Asociación de Guías;  Bahia Ballena Tours;  Ballena Info Center;  Bodhi Surf;  Costa Rica Cultural Tours;  Cristal Ballena;  CuidArte;  Cuna del Angel;  Flutterby House;  Hotel Vista Ballena;  Kura Design Villas;  Licorera don Isreal;  P.N.M.B.

Surf and Service Saturdays

Give a Saturday to your community to make it a better place. From now through August, join us for Surf and Service Saturday’s in PNMB to do community service. For those who participate in the service activity, surf lessons will be offered, focusing on the youth. We will also have soccer on the beach or just enjoy the beach with other participants. The service activities will vary by month, but the focus will be on maintaining trees planted in the park as part of the Semilla de Ballena project, doing beach cleanups, and helping to protect our coastline.

All are welcome to join. If you are a business and wish to become a monthly supporter of this Surf and Service Saturday Initiative please write Amy Work – amy (at)

We appreciate the generosity of past collaborators and look forward to your participation.

Past collaborators:

Artifice;  Asociación de Guías;  Bahia Ballena Tours;  Ballena Info Center;  Bodhi Surf;  Costa Rica Cultural Tours;  Cristal Ballena;  CuidArte;  Cuna del Angel;  Flutterby House;  Hotel Vista Ballena;  Kura Design Villas;  Licorera don Isreal;  P.N.M.B.



DÓNDE / WHERE:  PNMB – Entrada Playa Chaman  / Marino Ballena National Park – Playa Chaman Entrance

ENFOQUE DE SERVICIO / SERVICE FOCUS:  6 de febrero – Celebración del Día Mundial de los Humedales  / World Wetlands Day

FECHAS / DATES:  Primer sábado de cada mes / First Saturday of every month

  • 6 de febrero (este sábado)
  • 5 de marzo
  • 2 de abril
  • 7 de mayo
  • 4 de junio
  • 2 de julio
  • 6 de agosto

No Act is Too Small When it Comes to Protecting The World’s Oceans

While we continue to work in Bahia Ballena, we want to make sure you are aware of what some of our community supporters are up to. They make a difference and we want to give back to those who are also making a difference around the world.

Have you ever thought about your actions and the impact those actions have, not only on you and your immediate surroundings, but further downstream? Three years ago, our friends and colleagues at Bodhi Surf created the My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest as a way to recognize and give back to individuals who do something in their lives to protect Mother Nature and our magnificent oceans.


In addition to this contest and commitment to recognize individuals actions to protect our oceans, Bodhi Surf has also developed the Traveler’s Philanthropy Program as a way to help the local community non-profits continue to do their great work. Bodhi Surf has allocated a percentage of revenue from each of their guests to three local organizations in the community: Geoporter, Forjando Alas and Keto. At the end of each stay, their guests are given the opportunity to decide where they would like their “share” of the Bodhi Surf donation to go. Many of the Bodhi Surf guests even decide to donate a bit more to these local non-profits.

The Traveler’s Philanthropy Program enables these organizations to move ahead with their projects and even collaborate on other projects that they might not otherwise be able to do. In future blog posts, we will fill you in on how these funds have enabled Geoporter to work with young students in the after school program Forjando Alas.



So, take the pledge this October and become an Ocean Guardian by committing to implement a few of the ten concrete actions that anyone of us can take everyday to reduce our environmental impact.

Once you’ve signed the pledge, enter the 3rd Annual My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest to share your simple actions that help protect our environment and oceans. Anyone can make a difference. Here’s an opportunity to be recognized and rewarded for your actions!



Mobile Mapping of Humpback Whales

This weekend marks the third and final weekend of the 7th Annual Festival of Whales and Dolphins. Each weekend over a thousand tourists have come to Bahia Ballena to venture out on a boat and watch these incredible creatures.


These whales arrived mid-July from their home in the Antarctic waters. Southern humpback whales number around 3,000. They migrate to the warmer waters off the coast of Costa Rica to have their calves. While they are here, the mothers teach their calves how to surface for air and how to breach, the awe-inspiring behavior that is spectacular to see.

This season, guides and captains are using their mobile devices to record the whale sightings. In the previous three years, GPS units were used. With smart phones becoming more popular, we were able to shift monitoring and data collection to mobile devices.

Screenshot 2015-09-17 16.40.00

Using Esri’s Collector App, nine guides and captains are participating in this year’s monitoring of whales from the Southern hemisphere. (Four others use GPS units on the boats). Collector enables offline data collection, meaning the data capture doesn’t use minutes to capture and collect the data, an extremely important factor. Once back on land and done for the day, guides and captains connect to a wifi location and serve up their data.

The ability to collect data with mobile devices has enabled the map to be updated on a daily basis.  Check out the work of Bahia Ballena’s guides and captains in their live map of the whale and other cetaceans.


These whales will remain here until about mid-October, when the calves are strong enough to make the journey back south.

Standing Room Only: Impact Event San Diego

So to say that the environment was just like Costa Rica, isn’t too far off the mark, thanks to the rain.

The combined weekend total bumped the total July rainfall to 1.7 inches, a new record rainfall for July. The previous wettest July record was in 1902, with 0.92 inches of rain. But this is so little compared to July in Costa Rica, where an estimated 5.5 inches of rain falls in July.

Over 40 people trekked in the rain to make it to the First Geoporter Impact Event. With food and beverages donated from the Boisset Collection, there was standing room only. Roger, Anita and Amy found a little space in a spiral staircase to share the story of Geoporter.

It was wonderful to catch up with so many people who lived in California or who lived elsewhere and spent their evening with Geoporter.

The donations received will help Geoporter make several trips to the nearby Osa Communities to expand on training and will enable several sessions in working with the youth in town. We are extremely grateful for all the kind words we heard and the interest in continuing to support Geoporter.


Impact Event: San Diego, CA

Geoporter will be in San Diego, CA!! We invite you to join the Founders and Director for light appetizers and drinks Sunday, July 19, 2015, from 6:30pm – 9:00pm. Thanks to Boisset Collection for their wine donation.

Geoporter-InviteforImpact-SanDiegoJuly19_2015Come and learn more about our exciting non-profit that uses GIS to inspire community action. Suggested donation: $10-$20. We will have great door prizes from Costa Rica. Don’t miss out. We hope to see you there!

For those attending the EdUC, this will be following the reception and is only a 15-20 minute walk from the Marriott Hotel.

To help us with the amount of food and drinks, we kindly ask those who know they will attend, to send a brief RSVP to let us know how many might be coming. Partners, kids, or others are welcome!

RSVP using this form by July 15. You can also send an email to or call / message (214) 533-8376.

525 11th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(Use Park West Blvd Entrance)


Sponsors for San Diego Event to Impact: