May 3rd, 2014
In less than two months I will be headed out to AWF’s outreach center in Warm Springs Bay to kick off the data collection component of my citizen science project. Preparation for field research is always a challenge, and when the research base is in a remote Alaskan village, it’s even more important to make sure that every element of the project is in order. Final preparations for the field season (beginning in June) include finalizing the mobile application, species identification tools, and developing a feedback survey for participants.
I am actively working with our android developer to finish the application Whale mAPP before June. This android application is the platform which volunteers will use to record marine mammal sightings. After the data is recorded via Whale mAPP, it will automatically be uploaded to a database and be ready for analysis. More specifically, the data collected by volunteers will be used to create multiple species (humpback whale, harbor seal, killer whale, etc.) distribution maps for Southeast Alaska.
In addition to finishing the mobile application, I am also finishing up with designing species identification guides, so that volunteers will have their own “toolkit” for identifying marine mammals while out on the water. Another component of the project which I’m finalizing is a survey to gather user feedback data from the volunteers, and improve the application for future use. All of these steps are vital for ensuring a relatively smooth field season and successful citizen science project.
During the summer, I am very excited to be interacting with volunteers, and spreading my passion for marine biology with others! I hope to recruit many volunteers who not only enjoy helping, but also learn something new about marine mammals or collecting scientific data. The resulting data will be fascinating to analyze, and will contribute to our understanding of how volunteer collected data can be used for scientific research. Be sure to check back for updates on my progress!