Fishing in a Digital Ocean

Feb 8
Posted by Justin Longo Filed in Project

Play Digital Fishers Now

Got 15 seconds to spare? We’re looking for a few hundred thousand volunteers to help analyze deep-sea videos—15 seconds at a time. We invite you to participate in ocean science research (no experience required!). By playing Digital Fishers you’ll help researchers gather data from video, and unveil the mechanisms shaping the animal communities inhabiting the deep.

Developed by NEPTUNE Canada with the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies (CFGS) and funded by CANARIE. Co-investigator Dr. Rod Dobell leads the involvement of CfGS with additional support from

Play Digital Fishers Now

Read the rest of this entry »

NEW MISSION – Crab Detective: Challenge the computer & search for crab!

Dec 9
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Crab Detective: Challenge the computer & search for crab!


Our researchers need your help to evaluate their methods for the automated detection of that mysterious sea-floor animal – the crab. Although video provides a rich source of information crabs create a unique challenge. Normally, large amounts of data are put through techniques using motion sensors as the most common cue for automatic detection. However, some animals such as sea stars, sea urchins, gastropods, some fish and especially crabs exhibit very little motion and are not easily detected.

A tool that does not rely on motion for detecting the presence of animals is being developed. While, this tool uses shape and colour information, crabs and other sea-floor animals, are challenging to detect because of the uneven lighting deep in the ocean, the presence of objects that are of similar color and the significant variation in geometry because creatures like crabs often have part of their body hidden in the sand.

We need to test if this new tool is reliable and we need help. Your mission will be to annotate videos of the seabed that include stationary or quasi-stationary crab(s). Your annotations will be used in a study to compare against the software program…what we call “ground truthing”.


Special Instructions:

For this mission we ask you to

  1. Pause the screen anytime you see a crab
  2. Click “Sealife” and select Crab AND
  3. Click Location + Count: Look at only one corner of your screen top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left. Tell us how many crab(s) you see IN THIS ONE CORNER ONLY 1-5 or +5.


There may be lots of crabs everywhere. Just try and make an estimate for one part of your screen at a time - top right - top left - bottom right - bottom left. You can start the video again, pause and then annotate for the other areas.


*IMPORTANT: Sometimes you will see crabs in more than one corner. Please only annotate for one corner at a time. To tell us about crabs in other sections of your screen (top right, top left etc.), please let the video play for another second, pause and repeat the step above.

*If you are a returning user, this is a different task than you are used to.*




DF Site Infected with Malware – Now Secure

Dec 9
Posted by Justin Longo Filed in Uncategorized

Just before the weekend, we became aware of a malware infection that infected the site.

We have determined that the problem originated with a WordPress plugin (though we still do not know which plug-in it was). We have disabled all possible plugins, and the problem is now fixed.

We have applied to Google to have our current blacklist status erased.

New Mission Added: Investigation of NEPTUNE Canada’s future abyssal observatory!

Feb 8
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Hello Digital Fishers,

You have done such a great job mapping Mapping Seafloor Geology at Endeavour Ridge.  There were 15, 791 annotations which resulting in thousands of data points. Thank you!  We hope to have a bit of a map of what you saw posted as soon as we input all the data.

In the meantime, we have another similar mapping challenge we need your help with:

Investigation of NEPTUNE Canada’s future abyssal observatory!

Help our scientists decide where to place our instruments and cameras. In order to plan experiments for this site, we need your help developing a better understanding of the organisms found in the area and the general characteristics of the seabed. Your mission will be to annotate video segments from the area with information about seafloor organisms and seabed properties.

Anemone image for pop up

Over the next 3 years the NEPTUNE Canada network will be expanding instrumentation at its abyssal plain site in the northeast Pacific to permit time series observations of deep-sea ecological processes. This data will provide us information about species abundance, community composition and habitat features. Your data will be assembled into a map by our metadata team that you will be able to view following the end of the campaign.


You never know what you will see almost 3000 metres under the sea!

Depth image


Teen Spots Hagfish-Slurping Elephant Seal

Jan 28
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

We couldn’t let the week go by without commenting on the video that is going viral on oceannetworks canada‘s YouTube channel.

It is incredible to see the connection that the NEPTUNE Canada array can have across the world.  We keep talking about the power of the crowds and the opportunities that every day citizens like you our Digital Fishers can have and here is a real life example. How do you connect people with the scientists? This young man Kirill shows that you don’t need a PhD to spot something out of the ordinary; but, you do need a someone who is willing to work with you to connect the dots and that is just what NEPTUNE, VENUS, and Oceans Network Canada did.

If you haven’t had a chance to read all about 14-yr old Kirill Dudko from the Ukraine, his love of the ocean, and his discovery of an elephant seal  894 metres under the sea slurping up a hagfish meal, click on the links below.


“Kirill grabbed the clip and posted it on his YouTube channel, then sent us a message asking if we could help identify the creature that caught the hagfish. We put the word out to marine mammal experts in Canada and the US, who identified the mystery animal as a female northern elephant seal. This is our first sighting of an elephant seal in seafloor footage, recorded by a camera situated 894 m below the surface.”

Click here to read more

Click here to see the YouTube video

New Mission: Mapping Seafloor Geology at Endeavour Ridge

Nov 7
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

How are geological features distributed at a mid-ocean ridge?

                                                                    CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED

Please help us with our next challenge. For this mission, we have added videos from Endeavour Ridge where the seafloor exhibits spectacular geological features. We need your help in this seafloor mapping expedition of a mid-ocean ridge.

Details of the seafloor geology through video will enhance current bathymetric data sets (underwater maps) and enable better planning of the NEPTUNE Canada network. Also, scientists will be able to use this data to better understand the dynamic geological history of the ridge. Correlating geological features with select animals will also help scientists better understand what affects species distribution in one of the most extreme habitats on earth.

Special Instructions

For this mission, we’d like you to describe structures in the seafloor and pay close attention to a few selected species.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding out about the competition – What is the science and why is this new Sablefish campaign important?

Aug 8
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Some of you have asked for a more detailed explanation of the scientific research being done by the “competitors” of this new campaign and why it is important to learn more about the data that you, the Digital Fishers, are producing.

We asked Marjolaine Matabos and Maia Hoeberechts, Research Theme Integrators at NEPTUNE Canada, to help us understand the science.

What are activity or biological rhythms and what is important about this type of research?

Activity or biological rhythms are any rhythms in the life of an organism that follow a natural cycle like the daily or tidal periodicities. For example, some species bury themselves at certain moments of the day, others will migrate along the slope from deep water to shallower water following the tide. The study of those rhythms is called ‘chronobiology’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A’s on New Mission: Expert-Student-Computer-Citizen Scientist: How does the crowd compare?

Aug 3
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

So glad to see so many annotations already. We have had some initial comments and questions regarding this mission.

Q1. Can you please clarify when to annotate for sablefish and when we can annotate other sealife?
A1. Just to clarify, you can annotate other sealife by pausing and adding the annotation like usual.  But if you are working annotatinf for the sablefish (black cod), we ask that you watch the entire 15 second clip and when the video pauses you enter your count 0-10.  Remember a count of 0 is just as important as a count of 10.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Mission: Expert-Student-Computer-Citizen Scientist: How does the crowd compare?

Aug 1
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Here’s a new and exciting challenge.  We have added a competition between the crowd (you), the expert, the student, and a new automated detection system, and want to investigate how each compares. We have added video clips from Barkley Canyon, where we sampled 1 minute every half hour to study the behaviour and activity rhythms of the animals.  For this mission, we’d like you to count sablefish (black cod). Seem simple enough…

Meet the competitors

          Scientist (PhD student): A research group in Spain is investigating the influence of the daily and tidal cycles on the activity of the sablefish (black cod). A PhD student from their lab analysed these videos, counting fish and invertebrates, and focussing on the sablefish (black cod) because of their large numbers.
  Experienced users (biology class): 60 students in a biology class at the University of Victoria analysed these videos and counted the fish.
  Automated detection (computer algorithm): We have a PhD student who has developed a computer algorithm; this mission can be used as reliability test
  General public/citizens Digital Fishers: YOU

With your help, we would like to compare results in order to assess how we can best use a variety of sources to help researchers process the large amount of video data. We hope to publish our results in a leading science journal.  Let’s work together to show how well we can do!

Special Instructions
For this mission, in addition to your annotations on the variety of sealife, we ask that you pay particular attention to the sablefish (black cod).  We need you to count the number of sablefish (black cod) that you see throughout the entire 15 second clip. *If you are a returning user, this is a different task than you are used to.* At the end of the 15 second clip, your screen will pause.  You can then select sablefish (black cod) and a corresponding number (0-10) from the dropdown menu under the “Sealife” category.

See the news article on NEPTUNE Canada’s website  for more photos and details.

Preliminary results: Trawling, thornyhead rockfish & deep-sea ecosystems

Jul 30
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

This mission on “Trawling, thornyhead rockfish & deep-sea ecosystems will be ending soon.  We thought we would show you a few preliminary results…

Over the last 8 weeks, you have added nearly 8000 annotations to the database including 1122 annotations of thornyheads! Below are a couple of illustrations of the sealife you discovered:

Or if you like the word cloud idea, this one was created in R:


Thank you so much for helping us out.  Stay tuned as the new mission will be released in a couple of days and looks to be a very exciting adventure!