If you’ve ever wanted to go diving in the ocean and discover unknown sea creatures from the comfort of your own sofa, here’s your chance. There’s a new web site called Seafloor Explorer where anyone can look at images of the seafloor and help classify the creatures they see. It’s not the first time the public has been invited along on a scientific expedition under the sea, but on this one, we can be the discoverers and not just the audience.
A HabCam (habitat mapping underwater vehicle) took more than 40 million images of the ocean floor that have yet to be cataloged. 100,000 of those images have been posted to the Seafloor Explorer site. The HabCam team has posted these images for the public to view and describe.
For each image, citizen scientists (which includes everyone) will identify objects, such as fish, scallops, seastars, or other organisms, describe the seafloor, list any large or interesting objects, and provide basic measurements. Already a possible new species has been discovered. Nicknamed the “convict worm” because of its black and white stripes, the worm has been seen in several images.
The HabCam team is made up of marine biologists and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and fishermen and other scientists. They hope that with the help of the public, they can get a level of detail and mapping accomplished that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with their limited resources.
You can check out the Seafloor Explorer here.