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New iPhone App Assists Identification of Harmful Algal Species

A volunteer from the NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network’s Texas Master Naturalist group, in collaboration with National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) scientists, developed an iPhone application to assist marine phytoplankton and harmful algae identification.  This “app” includes images from an NCCOS gallery of common phytoplankton and recordings of a staff scientist’s pronunciation of each species’ name.  The application also contains a flash card game to improve volunteers’ identification skills.

The app, which works on both the iPod Touch and iPhone, drew over one hundred downloads within the first few days of release.  Three quarters of downloads were in the U.S., and the Japanese were the most active international downloaders.  A description of this application, with links to a video demo and iTunes download, is here.

The PMN enhances awareness of harmful algae and their impacts and directly engages volunteers in coastal stewardship across 140 sites in 16 coastal states.  Incorporation of popular communication technologies such as the iPhone app “Phyto” will improve access to coastal stewardship opportunities.

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