ECOCEAN Whaleshark Photo-ID Library:
You already know I’m a fan of most things citizen science, but you may not have known that one of my childhood dreams was to grow up and be an oceanographer, especially if I could do anything with coral reefs. I fell in love with coral reefs through a non-fiction children’s book by Ray Bradbury from the local library. (It was later when I fell in love with his science fiction books.) Curiously, my daughter also had an oceanic affinity as a child, but instead of reefs, she was in love with sharks, believing them to be sorely abused and in dire need of defending. She was rather like a mama bear protecting her cubs if anyone threatened sharks, and of course Discovery Channel’s SharkWeek meant we were all glued to the TV.
She was right, of course. Sharks DO need defending. Whale sharks in particular. One of the most fascinat breeds of shark, these grand and beautiful beasts are at risk of extinction. Enter citizen science to the rescue.
ECOCEAN’s Whale Shark project is a particularly interesting example of citizen science in that it offers so very many different ways in which to get involved.
1) You can donate vacation photographs of whale sharks.
2) You can analyse, catalog, and tag the donated photographs. 3) You can contribute data.
4) You can contribute money or “adopt a whaleshark.”
5) If you feel those are too much, you can also donate computer processing power when you aren’t using yours, rather like the SETI project.