11/29/2012 09:58 EST | Updated 01/29/2013 05:12 EST

Tsunami Debris Smartphone App Developed


A new smartphone app developed in Victoria will enable people to help track debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan as it gets within sight of B.C.'s shores.

Software specialist Murray Leslie developed the app he’s called Coastbuster.

"It's designed for somebody who's walking their dog or kayaking — a casual user — who can very quickly see something on the beach, take the picture and report it," Leslie told CBC News.

Researchers at the University of Victoria's Ocean Networks group will receive the pictures and pass them on to scientists at U.S. and Canadian agencies tracking the debris.

The information will help them track the potential 1.5 million tonnes of debris slowly making its way on ocean currents toward North America from Japan.

The app should help with the cleanup of all the stuff headed this way, said Cara Lachmuth, of the Surfrider Foundation on Vancouver Island.

"I think it’s amazing. It's super easy to use and makes you want to do it more because there is this big push from governments to see what's out there and categorize it and do something about it," Lachmuth said.

The app is ready for use on android phones, but Leslie said he’s still waiting for approval from Apple for use on the iPhone and iPad.

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