Fascinating critters are one of the most common reasons people are drawn to the ocean. These critters are also the driving inspiration for ReefID and its community to build online resources and cell phone apps that help identify and share our incredible underwater experiences.
In July 2010, ReefID Founder and Editor John Fifer began crowdsourcing digital images from both professional and amateur underwater photographers in an effort to create the largest, easy to use database of ocean inhabitants to date.
Photos and Story by John Fifer
By building an online community of ocean adventurers with similar goals and ideals, John and the ReefID team have collected thousands of images from people around the world that help people identify what they see in our ocean. Using their backgrounds in technology, e-learning, photography and marine biology, they have, and continue to, create ways to share these images while at the same time, exposing others to the wonders of our oceans.
ReefID’s charter is to make their identification tools simple and easy to use for everyone. Currently, they use simple recognition principals that combine underwater images and visual aids to help sort through their continually expanding database. With basic silhouettes and common characteristics, such as color and markings, users are able to narrow down and ultimately identify the marine inhabitants they encounter from a computer, tablet or smart phone.
With new technology taking personal devices underwater, ReefID is now working with its community along with top manufactures for device housings to build apps that automatically identify what you see simply by taking a picture of it. By collaborating with companies like Watershot and iDive, ReefID is gaining valuable insight on what personal device users are looking for above and below the water.
In addition to providing identification resources, ReefID’s community provides a place for people to create personal profiles and galleries while connecting with others that have a common love for our oceans. Profiles and galleries are continuously being created by divers, ocean advocates, travel destinations and ocean-focused organizations. These profiles contain images and descriptions that describe who they are and what they have to offer the world. The images added to these profiles are what ultimately fill ReefID’s identification programs.
Images uploaded to the community are reviewed for their identification abilities and are loaded into ReefID’s proprietary database for use in their apps. They are then labeled with common and scientific names, along with other interesting facts about each inhabitant, to enhance each image’s educational value. Their ultimate goal is to be sure that the system can help anyone from the first time snorkeler to the experienced diver identify and share what they saw.
Each image used by ReefID links back to the profile it came from, providing viewers with information on the person who took it. Using this technique, profile owners receive recognition and exposure for their contributions to the project’s database.
Articles and links throughout ReefID’s website can also be used to learn more about underwater photography, dive destinations, research projects, ways to get involved, and much more. With an easy to use identification system, and fun resources to keep the interest of all levels of ocean adventurers, ReefID is an organization to check out and play your part.
Photos and Story by John Fifer