PLOS Blogs: Using Citizen Science to Track Sevengill Sharks
Guest Post by Michael Bear
Citizen Science Project Director
Photo Credit: Julie Lorenzen
v. 2.0 of Sevengill Shark Tracker for Android devices now available for (free) download on Amazon:
Paper Published in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education:
‘Perspectives in Marine Citizen Science’
by Michael Bear
Citizen Science Project Director for Ocean Sanctuaries:
Citizen science can be defined as the process by which any non-scientist collects data or uses the scientific method under the guidance or mentorship of a scientist. This article presents an overview of several marine citizen-science projects as practiced by three non-profit organizations.
Two Oceans Aquarium, South Africa
Ocean Sanctuaries is pleased to announce a citizen science partnership with Two Oceans Aquarium Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. You can now contribute photographic data from South Africa:
The Aquarium of the Pacific and the Marine Conservation Research Institute
would like to invite you our upcoming
Citizen Science Symposium:
Anyone involved or interested in environmental conservation-oriented citizen science in Southern California is invited and encouraged to attend this symposium at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday, February 20, 2016.
Ocean Sanctuaries Founder Barbara Lloyd to Present
‘Using Citizen Science to ID Sevengill Sharks’
See here for more information:
Speak Up for the Blue Podcast:
Tracking Sevengill Sharks using Citizen Science with Michael Bear
Ocean Sanctuaries is pleased to announce that the most recent, browser-based version of Wildbook (v. 5.3) is now available and we will be rolling it out over the next week or so for use in identifying Sevengill sharks.. As the term browser-based implies, it will mean that anyone with a browser will be able to use it, without any application having to be installed on the computer. We hope this will simplify its use and make it appealing to a broader segment of the citizen science population. ‘Wildbook’ was designed by information architect Jason Holmberg originally for use in identifying Whale Sharks and is now working with us to customize it for use with Sevengill sharks.
Our Scientific Methodology: http://sevengillsharksightings.org/our-methodology-introduction/
Citizen Science Project Director
“Our shark programs began in 2009, with the Sevengill Shark ID Project, which began as a citizen science population dynamics study of the Sevengill shark in the San Diego area. Local divers began submitting video and stills from their GoPro cameras and it has snowballed into a serious scientific study, which has caught the attention of shark researchers, using the pattern recognition algorithms contained in a software program called ‘Wildbook.’ “
California Diver Magazine
It’s always nice to get a little PR:
“With Spring and Sevengill shark season right around the corner, Ocean Sanctuaries has two citizen science shark monitoring programs for California divers to choose from.
The first project is a partnership with National Geographic, called ‘Sharks of California’. Any non-Sevengill shark species can be logged there, using National Geographic’s ‘Fieldscope’ citizen science data collection tool at: http://sharksofsandiego.fieldscope.org/v3. A couple weekends ago, at the Coronados Islands, south of San Diego, a diver encountered a juvenile Great White and uploaded her photo to ‘Fieldscope,’ for a grand total of 3 Great White sightings now documented in that program by California divers–along with 3 Hammerhead sharks and several other species.
A second citizen science shark monitoring program, called ‘The Sevengill Shark ID Project’, allows California divers to upload photos of their Sevengill encounters.Their photos of Sevengill sharks will be analyzed by a pattern recognition program to determine which individual sharks are returning from year to year.”
Citizen Science Association Conference
San Jose, CA
Citizen Science 2015 was the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association (CSA). It was held at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California, USA, February 11-12, 2015–two days of building connections and exchanging ideas across a wide spectrum of disciplines and experience, to help to shape the future of citizen science.
Ocean Sanctuaries presented on ‘Identifying Sevengill Sharks in San Diego with ‘Wildbook’
Barbara Lloyd, Founder of Ocean Sanctuaries, speaking on “Identifying Sevengill Sharks with ‘Wildbook'” at the inaugural meeting of the Citizen Science Association, San Jose, California February 11, 2015. Slideshow and video. Runtime: 15 mins.
Released under the Creative Commons License: Use OK with Proper Attribution
March 22, 2014
After careful consideration and consultations with several knowledgeable shark researchers (not all of whom agreed with my decision), I have decided to go forward with using Wildbook as the primary pattern recognition analysis tool for the Sevengill shark project. I am aware that the scope of the program is much broader than what we are currently set up to do as a citizen science project, i.e., tagging and genetic sampling. However, several factors influenced my decision.
First: one of the two pattern recognition algorithms has already been successfully tested by biologist Brad Norman and ECOCEAN on whale sharks (http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/07-0315.1). This will be an opportunity to see how well it works on sevengill sharks, whose pattern is different, to be sure. But you don’t know until you try. Science is all about experimentation and seeing what works and what doesn’t, right?
Secondly, because the program is open source, new updates are coming out on a regular basis, with improvements in both the software and the algorithms getting ‘pushed out’ to users. With feedback to the developer, the algorithm can be continually tweaked and improved to work more efficiently with this images of this species of shark, as our database grows over time. To see how this program is being successfully used to ID Whale Sharks, see here: http://whaleshark.org/ Here is more on the developers of the program, Jason Holmberg and Zaven Arzoumanian: http://www.whaleshark.org/whoAreWe.jsp?langCode=en For more information on the methodology used in this project, please see here: http://sevengillsharksightings.org/our-methodology-introduction/
Formation of Ocean Sanctuaries Non-Profit
Experienced San Diego diver and filmmaker Barbara Lloyd and I recently decided the time had come to form an ocean-related non-profit here in San Diego which could serve as an umbrella organization to support citizen science projects, including, but not limited to this one as well as documentary films about the ocean and various ecological issues, to be called Ocean Sanctuaries.
“We have envisioned an organization which is a collaboration between citizen scientists, scientists, and other like minded organizations to foster greater understanding, wise ecology, species protection and good stewardship of the ocean and related habitats. We hope to do this by creating a community which educates and shares information through multi-media, social media, and the web. We also make data and imagery, gathered by citizen scientists, available to the general public, scientists, and other organizations.”
Rather than try to summarize all the Mission Statements and developments surrounding the founding of Ocean Sanctuaries here, I am providing a link to an article in Marine Science Today which does so more succinctly: http://marinesciencetoday.com/2014/04/04/ocean-organization-spotlight-ocean-sanctuaries/