Tracking Monarch Butterflies over the Gulf of Mexico
Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies start on their epic journal from across North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Although they are reported to avoid flying over water, there are enough records of them being found offshore to be credible, and particularly associated with oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico after cold fronts pass in October. Is this part of their migration or just their bad luck to be blown out sea to perish? The project is trying to tease this story apart using a citizen science program. When fully enabled, I hope to have observers across the northern Gulf of Mexico reporting on whether monarchs are present using a iPhone/iPad app. We have developed and deployed the reporting app (summer 2015), and now have the mapping feature available. All we need now is data! This project follows up on Gary Noel Ross' pioneering work in the early 1990s.
The app is also a research tool for looking at directional components of the migration and offshore/coastal occurrences in conjunction with Chip Taylor at Monarch Watch. The Monarch Migration app (found at the Apple app store) is pretty utilitarian and specialized. Please considering using Journey North for recording monarchs in North America. Our occurrence data will be shared with them but is intended to support a specific research objective, not the multi-year, North American scale program they have been doing for years. They are well-set up to support citizen science observations and have an extensive educational component. International users are welcome to use our app for recording monarchs outside the continental U.S.
UPDATE: I can now manually enter observations if you can't use the app at sea. Please email them to me.