Friday, October 4, 2013

New Mobile Citizen Science App for Ocean and Shark Lovers

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Everyone knows I love citizen science.  But I'm also a big scuba diving fan.  On most dives the goal is to watch the wildlife swim by in it's natural habitat, and to stay on the lookout for new and exciting creatures one has not seen before.  Most divers even take the time to log each dive and record everything they've seen.  Exactly the types of behavior citizen scientists are involved in.  So these seem like a perfect match.

For years I've looked for ways to better combine these two hobbies and get the most out of my limited vacation time.  Well it seems that wait is coming to an end.

Last week I was contacted by the founder of Sevengill Shark Sightings who let me know about a new citizen science app he's been working on.  It let's divers record information about any sharks they encounter into a central database to we can learn more about the range of their habitats and to help identify species that may be endangered.  The site also let's other citizen scientists view all the data through various maps so we can all take advantage of the information.  I'm excited about this one as both a diver and a citizen scientist, so I hope you all will check it out.

Getting Started is Easy:
  1. Visit the  SharkSavers web site to learn more about citizen science efforts in the ocean.
  2. Visit the Sevengill Shark Sightings web page to learn more about this specific project and get started helping the shark research community.
  3. Register as a New User by clicking here and providing some basic user information.
  4. For Android mobile phone users, download the free SharkSightings application and log in with your username and password.
  5. Go Diving (don't forget your buddy!) and if you have an underwater camera, take it with you for snapshots of any sharks you encounter.
  6. For any shark sightings you have make sure to log them into the system.
    • Android users can do it directly from the phone, and can upload any pictures as well as a description of the animal
    • For non-Android users, visit the Shark Observation Network Observation site to record your information and upload any photos.
  7. Dry off and enjoy a beer with your dive partners back on shore!
This is the first scuba-based citizen science project I've described but I really am interested in learning about (and highlighting) more.  So if you have enjoyed any similar projects, or if you have any useful feedback on this project, let me know in the comments below.  The oceans are vast and deep, and can use the help of the many citizen scientists eager to volunteer.


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