Going Fishing? There's An App For That

Emerlad Shiner, Notropis atherinoidesPhoto Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Summer is here at long last, and if you’re like a lot of people, your thoughts have turned to escaping the city, and perhaps heading to a lake. If your destination includes one of the Great Lakes, you might consider doing a bit of citizen science on the side.

Scientists from the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago have just released a smartphone app called the Great Lakes Fish Finder. The app will help Great Lakes visitors identify what they’re seeing while holidaying, and meanwhile will help researchers learn more about what species are highly prevalent in the lakes in real time. The app is being powered by iNaturalist, and is completely free.

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to expand our research and conservation efforts along the Great Lakes,” said Shedd Aquarium Senior Research Biologist Phillip Willink, Ph.D. “At Shedd, we have a deep interest in protecting the wildlife that inhabits our lakes. With the help of iNaturalist and the citizen scientists who will post their findings, we hope to have a better understanding of fish species found in the Great Lakes.”

Regular visitors to the Great Lakes will know that those waterways are plagued by a lot of invasive species, like the sea lamprey, which are rapidly altering the ecosystems. By providing real time data on sightings, researchers will have a better idea of how things are changing, and this in turn will help inform conservation policies.

The app is available on iTunes and Google Play. To learn more about Shedd and its research efforts, check out www.sheddaquarium.org/Conservation--Research

Chandra Clarke is a Webby Honoree-winning blogger, a successful entrepreneur, and an author. Her book Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science is available at Amazon. You can connect with her on Twitter @chandraclarke.