Amateur divers share species data for science

Nov 13, 2013
This is an image of a Lionfish shared on Diveboard by diver Jamie-Lee Thorpe. Credit: Jamie-Lee Thorpe

Species observations from thousands of scuba divers all over the world are now freely accessible via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

The citizen science platform Diveboard has published over 15,000 records from the 'electronic log books' submitted by its community of nearly 100,000 registered divers.

The dataset, available on the GBIF portal, includes records of occurrences from dives in all the world's oceans, as well as many inland water bodies.

The data will be updated as divers contribute more species observations, using GBIF's new real-time indexing system in which new or modified data can be seen on the portal within minutes or hours of being entered by the data publisher. Diveboard is the first new dataset to be indexed using this system.

The idea for Diveboard originated from French divers Alexander Casassovici and Pascal Manchon, who wanted to design an electronic system to enable scuba divers to record details of their dives once they reached the surface.

"We were sad that we couldn't do much from our log books because we had the worst handwriting," Casassovici recalls. "The data in our log book was basically lost.

"We started to aggregate the data we were creating through the dive computer, taking pictures, and everything we recorded on the dive. We tried to narrow down the species we had seen in a given spot, and to build a tool that would crystallize the experience that have underwater."

The Diveboard team hoped the project would build a bridge between casual recreational divers and marine biologists, providing data that could help researchers understand trends such as the impacts of climate change and spread of .

The electronic log book is now available in the form of a computer plugin that enables Diveboard to aggregate data from all dives on its own website, using tools to help divers to identify species through the Encyclopedia of Life, a GBIF partner organization.

The value of such data to GBIF's global network of species occurrence datasets was recognized by Dimitri Brosens, data liaison officer for GBIF Belgium and a keen diver himself. Collaborating with Diveboard and colleagues in the group Datafable, Brosens worked to bring the species observations by divers into formats suitable for publication through GBIF.

"With the help of Diveboard, we were able to standardize the data, add metadata, and publish the dataset as open data in a matter of weeks," says Brosens. "I'm excited about the possibilities this will offer biologists everywhere as a way to support their research with citizen science-generated data."

Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Effective new biodiversity data access portal

Jul 02, 2007

A new internet tool (http://data.gbif.org) was launched today by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The launch event took place at an international meeting for scientific and technical advice to the Partie ...

Online biodiversity databases audited: 'Improvement needed'

Apr 22, 2013

The records checked were for native Australian millipede species and were published online by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, GBIF and the Atlas of Living Australia, ALA. GBIF and ALA obtain most of their records fro ...

Peer review option proposed for biodiversity data

Oct 25, 2012

Data publishers should have the option of submitting their biodiversity datasets for peer review, according to a discussion paper commissioned by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Use of GBIF helps clarify environment-species links

Nov 11, 2011

Analysis of a massive set of mammal data accessed through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal has helped quantify the influence of various environmental factors on which species are present in ...

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

9 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

19 hours ago

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0