Hitomi the bigeye tuna puts CSIRO research on radar
As part of World Oceans Day, CSIRO is taking its ocean research to the public with Ocean Tracks, a science-meets-game engine website that displays the paths swum by tagged fish.
The web application shows lifelike, three-dimensional animations of fish in their underwater environment. The site offers stories of the animals and illustrates aspects of CSIRO’s tagging research.
Visitors can link Ocean Tracks to their Facebook page, recommend it to their friends, and share it through other social sites and online communities.
For more than 20 years CSIRO has been a world leader in marine tagging studies. The data can show where and when animals travel and where they dwell. This information is used to guide marine conservation and fisheries management.
Dr Andy Steven, who leads CSIRO’s Visualisation Initiative, said the rapid development of social platforms, mobile broadband services and devices meant that rich visual information was readily accessible.
“This development is transforming the way people think about and interact with their environment,” Dr Steven said.
“With Ocean Tracks, CSIRO is dipping its toe into this exciting space. We know there is a hunger for ocean news and this is a chance for people to make a personal connection with the research.”
The CSIRO marine tag database is unique in that it has data from conventional through to the latest electronic tags. Researchers from CSIRO and partners have tagged an armada of marine creatures – including reef fish, white and deep-sea sharks, swordfish, tunas, some sea birds and even Antarctic seals.
Ocean Tracks features three coastal and six open-ocean fish from this database.
“By transforming the data gleaned from these tags and sensors into a visual platform we’re further increasing the value of the database by taking our science to the public,” Dr Steven said.
“We hope Ocean Tracks will inform and inspire people about the science that’s helping tackle some big issues, such as biodiversity conservation, sustainable fisheries and coastal development. Through Ocean Tracks they can feel part of the research effort.
“Data visualisation can be a powerful communication tool for demonstrating and increasing understanding of environmental knowledge, futures, and choices.
“CSIRO is increasingly moving to visual platforms to help the community, researchers and decision makers grasp the impact of science.”
The website was produced by CSIRO with the application development by The Project Factory.
- Images and audio grabs available at: Hitomi the bigeye tuna puts CSIRO research on radar
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- Beneath the waves of an interactive ocean (Podcast 17 Jun 11)