Cachalot represents a new form of digital textbook, one that is completely open access and populated with current content written by experts in the field.

The encyclopedic portion of the app covers all forms of marine megafauna – from Hawaiian spinner dolphins to Magellanic penguins – in easy to read species profiles accompanied by captivating digital media. Learn from a new expert every week as a new species profile is released as the “Megafauna of the Week.”

The course materials will include open access readings from the primary literature and lessons used in class when it commences in Spring 2012.


  • Megafauna of the Week Profiles including Favorite Facts, Species Information, Expert Information and Further Reading.
  • Amazing expert photos, audio, and video.
  • Compelling National Geographic CRITTERCAM videos for some species.
  • Easy to read profiles.
  • Class readings in PDF format, loaded into an in-app annotation interface for highlighting, note-taking and free-form annotations.
  • Class lessons enriched with audio and video content loaded into an in-app annotation interface for highlighting, note-taking and free-form annotations.
  • Initial tutorial overlay illustrating most features of the program, which can be reset at anytime.

Version 1.1 features bug fixes and UI improvements.

Version 1.2 features bug fixes and:

  • Completely redesigned UI for Megafauna of the Week, Readings, and Lessons.
  • Interactive maps of for images in Megafauna of the Week and Lessons
  • Built in Twitter chat for Readings and Lessons
  • Ask Wolfram Alpha and view experts’ Tweets all from within the app.


Cachalot was created by faculty and students of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Computer Science Department.

Development is currently funded by the Duke Center for Instructional Technology, Duke Marine Lab and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. In collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Computerized Scanning and Imaging FacilityNational Geographic and the Society for Marine Mammalogy.


Interested in Cachalot? Drop us a note!



The current members of the Cachalot development team are:

  • David Johnston
  • Adam Cue
  • Kerry Irish

The initial development team also included:

  • Heather Heenehan
  • Sophia Cui
  • Tony Thomas
  • James Wu
  • Nancy Chen