Online tool helps identify marine life
Ever come across an unusual shell while walking along the beach or caught a fish you couldn’t identify?
Auckland Museum has developed a free application called NZ Marine Life to help you out.
The museum’s natural sciences collections manager Severine Hannam says: ‘‘It’s an amazing tool and is accessible to anyone who has an iPad or iPhone and wants to learn more about coastal marine species.
‘‘It’s kind of our way of taking our collections outside the museum walls.
‘‘It means we can share our knowledge with members of the public that wouldn’t normally come here.’’
She started working on the application in the middle of last year, along with several others in the marine sciences department.
The application, which can be downloaded for free from the App Store, was launched on June 21 in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Moana – My Ocean.
The online tool features 130 of New Zealand’s coastaldwelling marine mammals, reptiles, fish, shellfish, invertebrates, seaweeds and plants.
Each entry combines photographs with infor- mation on the animal or plant’s biology, identifying characteristics, diet, habitat and its native and endangered status.
Because it’s the first time Auckland Museum staff have created an application it was a bit of a learning curve, Mrs Hannam says.
Many of the photographs were taken specifically for the online tool by museum photographer Krzysztof Pfeiffer.
The main idea is to help people identify the marine life that is common around the Auckland region.
Another important consideration in the selection process was highlighting the protection status of some of our most endangered species.
Auckland Museum’s marine team and contributing scientists will continue to add additional species and develop content for the tool.
There are also plans to broaden its coverage area.
‘‘We are obviously very much Auckland-focused at the moment but the future plan is to involve other research institutes, museums and universities to create an app which can be used throughout the country,’’ Mrs Hannam says.
Handy reference: Auckland Museum natural sciences collections manager Severine Hannam hopes the NZ Marine Life app will remind people about the importance of our native species.