The program was created by Aquarium staff member Erin McCombs who traveled to Belize in 2017 and worked with Dr. Demian Chapman, of Global FinPrint, on his shark conservation research. Global FinPrint has taken the world’s largest reef shark and ray survey by filming marine life using underwater cameras. The hope is that by observing the animals in their natural habitats, they can gather enough information to understand why sharks and rays are diminishing in numbers.
Over the last three years, Global FinPrint has taken thousand of videos that now need to be reviewed and annotated which is where the program comes into play. Erin was joined by thirty volunteers at the Aquarium to review hour-long videos of reefs in different areas of the Pacific Ocean including Fiji, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia. Volunteers were trained on how to identify different sharks and animals that are typically found in these waters.
Once observations were made, the citizen scientists uploaded their findings to the Global FinPrint database. As of now, the teams have viewed nearly 200 videos and noted 390 shark sightings.
Read the full blogpost to learn more about these citizen scientists.