Seak is a citizen science project that encourages users to locate, photograph and map marine species and to collect basic data about the sea.

Diego Avila

Age 36, Colombia

PROJECT: Seak is a citizen science project that encourages users to locate, photograph and map marine species and to collect basic data about the sea.

Tell us about the work you are doing to create a wilder world.
One of the most important conservation issues that humanity faces right now is protecting sea life. We have noticed that people worldwide lack considerable knowledge of the species that live in our oceans, and we cannot protect what we do not know exists. Two brothers, a designer and a marine biologist, concerned about this issue, decided to create Seak: a citizen science project that motivates sea lovers worldwide to photograph and map marine life. This will enable people to have access anywhere to discover and learn about the sea: sea lovers become the eyes under the sea for those who don’t know what exists below water.

 

What are five (5) of your short term goals to accomplish in the next 1-2 years?
1. To spread our project around the world.
2. Create new networks with universities, research institutions, and environmental organizationsw ho want to be a part of this innovative project
3. Seak is now working on an image recognition algorithm with Matlab that will help a community of users to easily identify what they are seeing, so as to make their dive experiences more interesting, educational and fun. The algorithm will help to improve the classification and verification of the user´s posts.

 

What are five (5) of your long term goals to accomplish in the next 5-10 years?
1. Compliment worldwide marine biodiversity information systems inventories.
2. Be the most important citizen science project in the world which works to collect and spread information about marine life for conservation.

 

How can others help you accomplish these goals?
1. Scientists, underwater photographers and scuba divers: don´t leave your dive memories underwater; upload your experiences onto Seak to inspire other people to protect our oceans.
2. Sea lovers: you don´t need to get wet in order to discover the sea. Just create your personal profile and be part of a social network of sea lovers and marine conservationists.
3. Environmental organizations can promote Seak and create an awareness of the importance of the app in education and conservation.

 

How can the public get involved with your project/work?
Seak brings the sea to your pocket! Just create your personal profile and be part of a social network of sea lovers and marine conservationists. Explore marine life in the live feed created by divers and sea lovers in the Home icon. Now, by clicking on each of the species in this live feed you can discover its common and scientific name, and fun facts. If you want to know the oceanographic points where these species can be found, you can do it through the GPS icon.
Register your photos of marine species using the Camera icon, and save useful data from each diving experience with the Data icon.

Seak app is now available on the App Store and Google Play.

Several scuba dive operators, who actively want to do something to protect our sea, work as evangelizers of the app. These partnerships promote and encourage divers to share their discoveries on Seak.

In this age of technology, almost every student has a smartphone. Biology teachers from primary up to high school can use Seak as a tool to help improve students´ knowledge of marine life and promote sea conservation.

 

What have been some successes you have had?
Seak’s life began in 2014, when the idea was selected to be part of the Colombian Technology, Information and Communications (TIC) entrepreneurship program, Apps.co. This program provided support and mentorship in order to develop the idea.

In 2014, Seak was chosen as one of the best seven mobile applications to represent Colombia in Barcelona at the international mobile entrepreneurship event, 4 Years From Now. We were surprised we were the only app at the congress that was focused on encouraging people to discover our underwater environment.

This project is backed by Utadeo and the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation.

 

What are some lessons you have learned/what would you have done differently?
1. Together, citizen science and technology create a powerful tool to actively involve people to share and get information to discover and protect marine life. “Share to care”
2. We cannot protect what we do not know exists. For this reason we decided to create Seak: a community of users who are the eyes under the sea for those who don’t know what exists below water.
3. Living in an age of extinction, sharing knowledge is one way of protecting our fragile ecosystems. Seak is one of the answers, providing an intuitive platform which enables people worldwide (students, underwater photographers, scuba divers, scientists and curious sea lovers) to have access anywhere to work together in order to discover and protect sea life.

 

Have there been any major (or minor) milestones in your work?
1. We launched Seak for iOS and Android 10 months ago, covering a total audience of 4000 students, underwater photographers, scuba divers, scientists and curious sea lovers from Asia to America. +1900 users have reported and mapped +650 species, with the information constantly growing.
2. In July 2015 Seak and the University Jorge Tadeo Lozano (http://utadeo.edu.co), as a science partner, joined together to develop the scientific project, Mapping and Monitoring Colombian Marine Biodiversity. In this project, Seak will be the platform that collects and provides sea life data.
3. From January 2016, any data that is uploaded onto the app will help to amplify the Colombian SIB ( Colombian biodiversity information system) initiative’s inventory.

We cannot protect what we do not know exists!

+1900 users have reported and mapped +650 species, with the information constantly growing.

Divers, don´t leave your dive memories underwater! Take them out to inspire people to protect our oceans.