Want to be a Sacramento citizen scientist or citizen (amateur) engineer and classify underwater images of plankton from your home working online as a volunteer for no pay? Today, an online citizen-science project "Plankton Portal" launches, created by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences researchers with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation and developers at Zooniverse - Real Science Online. Also see the Citizen Scientists League where you can learn how to become involved in all types of science projects from geek culture to amateur engineering, biology, astronomy, and other branches of science. See the site, "Citizen Science Musings: Amateur Engineering and Design."
Plankton Portal allows you to explore the open ocean from the comfort of your own home whether it's looking at the beauty of jellyfish or the artwork of nature in plankton. Classifying images of life in the sea is one way to get kids interested in careers in science when they grow up, for example young people who want to study any branch of the life sciences or those retired from other careers who always wanted to be a scientist or a photographer of science images. If you like to classify images, that volunteer work is cut out for you. The images also can inspire artists who paint nature or make collages.
Classify images of planktons
Dive hundreds of feet deep, and observe the unperturbed ocean and the myriad animals that inhabit the earth's last frontier, explains a September 17, 2013 news release, "Online citizen scientists: Classify plankton images." You don't need to have a college degree or even have taken any courses in sciences to be a citizen scientist (volunteer) and to make a difference by classifying scientific images to have the experience of activities in a scientific environment.
There's a field of participation called being a citizen scientist. Just like being a citizen journalist lets you write for various publications online or in print, being an online citizen scientist lets you work at home classifying images in the science of your choice. For many, working with science is what they always wanted to do, such as looking at images in the field of botany, oceanography, or various branches of biology. For others science is art when it's about photography, ocean images, or even microphotography.
Plankton Portal uses crowd-sourcing to classify strange oceanic creatures
For some, it's a volunteer experience to keep busy online at home when you're not working for pay any more. And for others, it's one way to get experience classifying plankton images for your next career by having something to put on your resume as a citizen scientists. Kids can learn what it's like to be a scientists and classify living creatures. How many kids enjoyed classifying dinosaurs when brought to a museum or enjoying a book on the topic? Now you can classify plankton images if you enjoy classifying scientific images.
The word 'citizen' is used instead of volunteer amateur or unpaid labor. The old term was "senior volunteer," for giving retired people who have other forms of income such as pensions and social security checks a chance to stay active in science or in working with images and science as in biophotography. On the other hand, some students want volunteer experience in learning how to classify plankton, for example, if you're a botany or biology major interested in oceanography, photography, or life science in general.
On September 17, 2013, an online citizen-science project launches called "Plankton Portal" was created by researchers at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS) in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and developers at Zooniverse - Real Science Online Plankton Portal allows you to explore the open ocean from the comfort of your own home. You can dive hundreds of feet deep, and observe the unperturbed ocean and the myriad animals that inhabit the earth's last frontier.
Goal is to let volunteers classify millions of underwater images to study plankton diversity
The goal of the site is to enlist volunteers to classify millions of underwater images to study plankton diversity, distribution and behavior in the open ocean. It was developed under the leadership of Dr. Robert K. Cowen, UM RSMAS Emeritus Professor in Marine Biology and Fisheries (MBF) and now the Director of Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, and by Research Associate Cedric Guigand and MBF graduate students Jessica Luo and Adam Greer.
Millions of plankton images are taken by the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS), a unique underwater robot engineered at the University of Miami in collaboration with Charles Cousin at Bellamare LLC and funded by NOAA and NSF. ISIIS operates as an ocean scanner that casts the shadow of tiny and transparent oceanic creatures onto a very high resolution digital sensor at very high frequency.
So far, ISIIS has been used in several oceans around the world to detect the presence of larval fish, small crustaceans and jellyfish in ways never before possible. This new technology can help answer important questions ranging from how do plankton disperse, interact and survive in the marine environment, to predicting the physical and biological factors could influence the plankton community.
"ISIIS gives us a new view on plankton, enabling us to see them in their natural setting, where they occur, what other organisms are nearby, even their orientation," explains Cowen in the September 17, 2013 news release, "Online citizen scientists: Classify plankton images."
The dataset used for Plankton Portal comes from a project from the Southern California Bight, where Cowen's team imaged plankton across a front, which is a meeting of two water masses, over three days in Fall 2010.
According to Jessica Luo, graduate student involved in this project, "in three days, we collected data that would take us more than three years to analyze." Cowen agrees: "with the volume of data that ISIIS generates, it is impossible for us to individually classify every image by hand, which is why we are exploring different options for image analysis, from automatic image recognition software to crowd-sourcing to citizen scientists."
"A computer will probably be able to tell the difference between major classes of organisms, such as a shrimp versus a jellyfish," explains Luo, in the news release. "But to distinguish different species within an order or family, that is still best done by the human eye."
Volunteer citizen scientists can assist by going to the website Plankton Portal. A field guide is provided, and the simple tutorial is easy to understand. Cowen and the science team will monitor the discussion boards; answer any questions about the classifications, the organisms, and the research they are conducting. For more information, you also can take a look at sites such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, University of Miami, or Bellamare LLC.
For more information, check out some of the images of jelly fish, spider web-like plankton, and the ISIIS instrument such as: Medusa jellyfish, Spider web-like plankton, and the ISIIS instrument. Or see, Plankton Portal and the site, Zooniverse - Real Science Online.