Data experts and marine researchers have asked for the help of citizen scientists in order to better understand Australia's Great Barrier Reef, local media reported Monday.
Launched as a part of National Science Week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and a number of other organizations, have created a program called the Virtual Reef Diver which allows users to experience the iconic underwater marvel using their computer, tablet or mobile device.
"Virtual Reef Diver is such an exciting and unique project, combining statistical monitoring and citizen science to tackle one of Australia's and the world's most urgent issues, the protection of the Great Barrier Reef," statistician Professor Kerrie Mengersen from QUT said on Monday.
Using 170,000 underwater images to create a virtual world, citizens scientists are tasked with identifying coral, algae and sand as they explore the picturesque reef.
"We're taking their classification data and feeding it into our scientific models of the Reef, to better understand issues like changes in coral cover across the Reef," project leader Dr. Erin Peterson from QUT said.
"The response we've had from citizen scientists has been amazing."
"We couldn't collect this volume of data without their help."
The innovative project is funded by the Australian government's Inspiring Australia strategy.