Explore the Seafloor is an online citizen science project undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) as part of National Science Week 2013.

Throughout the month of August we’ll be asking for help with identifying kelp and sea urchins in images of the seafloor. This job is normally done by research assistants and is time-consuming and laborious. In Explore the Seafloor we’ll be taking a crowd-sourcing approach to reduce this workload and ask regular folk to get involved and help the scientists with their research work.

This crowd-sourcing approach is called citizen science – it’s about using the power of the people to increase the breadth of science by gathering or processing information important to a scientific project.

Anyone can join in, you don’t need to be a scientist, you just need to have access to the internet and want to help.

> More on ‘the science’


How does it work?

Register – To take part in ‘Explore the Seafloor’. You first need to register with your details, including a valid email address and a password.

Schools can also join in – an adult just needs to register for the group (see ‘How do I get my school involved?‘ for more info)

Kelp or Urchins? – You can choose whether to start with the kelp or urchin identifications – and you can swap between them at any time. Both are important.

Tutorial – Before you start looking at the images we’ll take you through a quick tutorial on what to do. You can return to this tutorial later if you need to refresh your knowledge or have any questions.

Identifying images – Follow the instructions in the tutorial on how to identify kelp and sea urchins in the images. We’ll keep track of how many images you’ve done so you can chart your progress.

Enter the competition – Once you’ve identified 10 images (either kelp or sea urchins) you’re eligible to enter the competition to win an underwater camera. There is a separate prize for school groups and your school group will need to identify 50 photos to be eligible to enter the school’s competition.
> More on the competition

Keep going!
You can come back anytime to complete more images and we’d love it if you do!

The team

Explore the Seafloor is a collaboration between ABC Science and IMOS – Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System.

IMOS was established in 2007 and includes participants from all of Australia’s main university and government research organizations involved in marine science research. IMOS is designed to be a fully-integrated, national system, observing at ocean-basin and regional scales, and covering physical, chemical and biological variables

IMOS brings together researchers from a variety of institutions and disciplines. Represented within this group are benthic ecologists, geoscientists, computer scientists and engineers from multiple institutions who have come together by the shared understanding that a collaborative approach is essential for effective marine habitat monitoring at a national scale. Collaborators  include the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at Sydney University; the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania; the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) at the University of New South Wales; the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia; CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research; and the Australian Institute for Marine Science.

IMOS is supported by the National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub; the Australian Research Council; Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; the Australian National Data Service (ANDS); NSW DPI Fisheries; Department of Fisheries WA; Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
> More on the scientific team

ABC Science was established in 1997 and provides high-quality science stories with an Australian focus.  It also specialises in online citizen science projects and recently ran the Big Sleep Survey 2010, the Multi-tasking Test 2011 and Soundcheck Australia: the National noise and hearing test in 2012.

Project produced by Kylie Andrews (ABC Science)
Graphic design by Julie Ramsden (ABC)
Technical production by Leonie Wilson and Ryan Sabir (Bitcraft)

Explore the Seafloor was funded under the Inspiring Australia program.

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