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

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Feeding Deep-Sea Critters: Meet our Researcher Neus Campanya Llovet from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Mar 9
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

We are really excited to introduce you to this new mission and the researcher that needs your help.

Meet Neus Campanya Llovet a researcher at Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Neus and Falkor science crew  That’s her in the middle working with us on an expedition with the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) on board the research vessel Falkor where she gathered data for her research.


The latest Digital Fisher mission requires observing the video she collected during a controlled experiment on the Falkor expedition.  Neus’ scientific experiment simulated a food fall to the deep ocean where the absence of light and photosynthesis result in a scarcity of food.

For the analysis of her data, we are asking for your help. Your challenge will be to count and identify the animals in each 1-minute clip that are attracted by the food patches that have been placed in Barkley Canyon.   As Digital Fishers, your analysis will help evaluate if organisms are attracted to food pulses, how many and which species.

Read more…

Why? Lipid and stable isotope analyses can be used to understand food webs and identify what animals eat. Climate variations can drive changes in the planktonic communities which in turn influence the amount and quality of food that reaches deep-sea benthic communities. Further understanding on resource utilization by them is crucial before predicting and assessing impacts of climate change. This data will help scientists better understand the importance of food falls in deep sea environments and hopefully provide some more clues on deep-sea biodiversity and the role that food plays in it.

Start helping Neus by tagging or annotating video… 


New Mission Added: Feeding Deep-Sea Critters

Feb 27
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Which and how many deep sea animals are attracted to food patches in Barkley Canyon?

Help us analyse a scientific experiment that simulates a food fall to the deep ocean where the absence of light and photosynthesis result in a scarcity of food.

Your challenge: count and identify the animals that are attracted by the food enrichment.

We have posted 1-min video clips from the experiment in Barkley Canyon where we deployed two food patches that mimic food sinking from surface waters and a control (with no food). Each food patch can be identified by its white color, provided by the clay used to help the algae (food) settle to the seafloor. The food patches are protected with a frame so that sablefish will not create a cloud of mud and disturb the sediment.

For this mission we’d like you to identify and count how many animals are attracted to each treatment so that we can compare them. You’ll have the chance to see some deep-sea creatures while contributing to a scientific experiment!

Specific Instructions

Until you get the hang of it or if you have seen all these critters before, please refer to the tutorial which illustrates the animals you might encounter.

Barkley Canyon Fauna Watch each clip for its entire length and pause it any time you see a different animal on the screen to answer the following questions from the drop down menus

This is a bit different from the last mission. This time we are looking for both:

  1. Which animal(s) can you see inside the frame area?
  2. How many of them can you see inside the frame area?


Here is an example of what we saw:  Grooved Tanner Crab

What’s the goal or focus?

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New Mission coming soon…bear with us

Feb 20
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Exciting news! We have a new researcher working with us and a new mission almost ready to roll out.

This one has some technical challenges because we have to use specific video footage and lengths of time. Some of the web browsers are having difficulty delivering this so we need to work off line.

All that to say…our site is down for a few days…but, we look forward to a reveal. In the meantime, you will see this note:

Digital Fishers is Offline








Thank you for your patience! Exciting research ahead…

– The Digital Fishers team

New Mission Added: Sablefish (black cod) Countdown Redux!

May 20
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

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

What do you do when your experiment returns a variety of results? You run a second trial. Hey that’s real science. So, here is the challenge: We need more comparable results from our sablefish competition. We need to compare apples to apples or in this case sablefish to sablefish. So, this time we are asking you to count the sablefish exactly as we are doing in our labs.


Sablefish Mission screen shot May 20

We have added the full video clips from Barkley Canyon, where we sampled 1 minute every half hour to study the behaviour / activity rhythms of the animals.

We now have a newly developed computer automated program and are further testing its reliability and we need your help. Can you be the scientist?


I Found 2!

I Found 2!


Here’s the big challenge. For this mission, we’d like you to count or in some cases recount the sablefish (black cod) for the entire segment of the clip – up to 1 minute of your time!

Seems simple enough…

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Where do Digital Fisher users come from?

May 20
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Recent Google Analytics say: Canada, US, Spain, France, Germany, SouthAfrica, Oman, Switzerland, Colombia, CzechRepublic, Australia, Iceland, Italy.


where do you come from


Any other countries out there we haven’t heard from?

So is citizen science the same as crowdsourcing? Why not?

May 16
Posted by jodiewalsh Filed in Uncategorized

Ever wondered whether you are doing the work of a citizen scientist or just part of the crowd? Why does it matter?

Digital Fishers developer and colleague, Justin Longo is now doing his post-doctoral work out of  The Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University. With the winning of a new grant from the Office of the Vice President for Entrepreneurship & Innovation under their Citizen Science & Citizen Engagement (CSCE) Grant Program he relooks at Citizen Science and asks this question of the distinction between the two.

Justin, has always had me using the term “science-oriented crowdsourcing”. I liked reading the post and revisitng just why.

He makes the case:

…that there is an important connection between the terms “crowdsourcing” and “citizen science” – or, to be more precise, between what I call “science-oriented crowdsourcing” and “Web2.0-enabled citizen science”. My interest here is in trying to more precisely define the type of citizen science we’re talking about, and where it intersects with crowdsourcing.

First off, what strikes me as unhelpful is that there’s a noticeable preference in the citizen science movement against the term crowdsourcing, as though crowdsourcing were something less serious than citizen science. For example, the Citizen Science Alliance – the organization behind the Zooniverse – very precisely and carefully does not use the term crowdsourcing in its writings. Crowdsourcing is for making t-shirts, citizen science is for identifying galaxies. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there should be a more objective difference between the two terms.

Read the full blog post here.

Justins new project is the “Citizen Science to Forecast the Future of a Desert City” and the other is the “Crowdsourcing the Next Great Citizen Science Project” project. He is currently a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Global Studies, at the University of Victoria and will return to sunny Phoenix in the fall.

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