Walking along the beaches of the Central Coast, it is common to marvel at the breathtaking scenery, be delighted by the crash of the waves and smell of the salt air, and also be utterly confused as to what the heck you are looking at washed up on the sand. Even as an avid naturalist and beachcomber, there have been a number of times when I have been puzzled as to what I have seen lying helpless and stranded just above the water line. More often than not these mystery creatures are organisms that are unfamiliar, but there have also been instances where trash and other man made debris littered the shore. How do you know what you are staring at, and whether it is normal or a result of climate change, natural disaster, or human disturbance?
Jellywatch- With shifts in climate and human influences changing to composition of our oceans, there have been substantial changes in jellyfish populations. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Jellywatch Android App can help you identify, track, and report what your ocean-side observations. The application congregates data on squid, jellyfish, red tide, and animal sightings along with photographs. All information is added to Google maps and displays graphic information on the heath of the sea.
Marine Debris Tracker- When you see trash on the beach, it may be difficult to know from whence it came. Ocean currents sweep debris far away from their points of origin and deposit them sometimes thousands of miles from their homes on land. University of Georgia researchers and UGA computer systems have joined forces to keep tabs on our massive amounts of floating refuse. Using the built-in GPS technology of smartphones, the Marine Debris Tracker app for Android and iPhones allows users to log information and add it to an ever growing database run by the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and the NOAA Marine Debris Division.
Project Noah- Launched out of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Project Noah aims to educate and reconnect people with nature through technology using mobile applications. Android and iPhone users can become citizen scientists by snapping photos of wildlife, identifying what they encounter, and providing critical information to scientists across the globe. Gorgeous, detailed maps display the participant community’s sightings, provide field stats and background info on the animal, join local missions and conservation efforts, and talk with other nature enthusiasts.
Let your smartphone be a power for good! Download these free, educational apps today!