The “check in” has become a daily part of our lives via mobile apps like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook and now sharks have their own app as well. Shark Net is a new iOS app that locates nearby Great White Sharks with a Foursquare-type check-in platform. The aim of the free app is to enable a direct, personal connection between the public and wild marine animals hopefully to raise public awareness of the ocean wilderness.
The research team from Stanford University Marine Sciences set up the network of acoustic detection buoys and robotic wave gliders around areas they know the sharks tend to congregate around to track the sharks in real time. The Shark Net app receives this data and notifies users when a shark passed within 1,000 feet of a listening device triggering a “check in.”
For those of you who saw any of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” programs, you may already be familiar with the tools, methods and even the sharks monitored in this app. Beyond the shark check in, Shark Net features interactive maps, photos, videos, historical tracking data and 3D interactive models. The models display photo-realistic sharks complete with unique markings and fin shapes that the researchers use to recognize individuals in the wild.
“People realize this is important, but it’s hard for them to connect on a visceral, personal level to the incredible biodiversity in their own backyard,” said Randall Kochevar of the app’s development team. “Through this app, we’re able to put the Blue Serengeti right in their hands. They can follow individual sharks and learn about their lives and feeding habits.”