Faithful readers of the SEANET blog are, I hope, committed to the idea of citizen science; we at SEANET know the immense amount of data that volunteer scientists can generate. SEANET is a particularly regimented, scheduled citizen science program, and our fabulous volunteers make a year-round commitment to regular walks on their chosen coastline. But not every publicly generated dataset requires that kind of dedication.
The University of Georgia and NOAA have teamed up and created a smartphone based reporting system for marine debris sightings. The Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI) has created the Marine Debris Tracker app for iPhone and Android devices, and users can report marine debris anywhere in the world. The data is sent directly to the Marine Debris Tracker site, and their site is viewable and searchable by the public. Debris is classified by type, with categories as specific as flip-flops and cigarettes, and the data is mapped for all visitors to the site to see.
Whether you’re a Seanetter or not, give this reporting system a try and let us know what you think!