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Marine life app makes school trips interactive

06 Aug 2013

School trips to the beach have just become more interactive thanks to a new app from Auckland Museum.

The NZ Marine Life App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a free digital field guide, providing information on more than 260 marine species found in New Zealand waters.

It covers species that can be found on the east and west coast, as well as those found in rock pools and out to about 10 metres from shore.

The second version of the app, which was released on Friday, also includes larger marine species such as dolphins, whales and sharks that can be found further out.

Each species is listed with its scientific name, its Maori name, biology, where it is commonly found, taxonomic information, genus and family. There are at least three pictures for each species along with its protection status both in New Zealand waters and outside.

Nils Pokel, Auckland Museum’s e-learning producer, says the app is intended as a pocket reference guide for scientists, students, teachers and parents.

“The app is a great way to provide informal learning with a contemporary twist. The information can be read and studied, or students can just whizz through the images.”

As NZ Marine Life is a self-contained app it doesn’t require an internet connection to work so it can be used anywhere, at the beach or on a boat.

Severine Hannam, Auckland Museum’s natural history collections manager, says it is great tool for use on school field trips.

“Teachers can take the iPads and ask students to identify 10 different species on the beach. It is a tool to take outside the classroom and get out there, get students looking in rock pools and thinking about New Zealand’s marine life.”

Initially launched in June, the app has already played a part in finding the spread of an invasive species and there are plans to develop and expand it further.

“It is still read-only and there is no method for people to report or contact us directly from the app. Ultimately we would like to make it a two-way tool where people can send us sightings and GPS locations, for example,” says Pokel.

Hannam agrees. “We want to constantly improve it. There are so many other species we can include, plants, seabirds etc. It is an on going project and we will keep improving it.”

Go to www.aucklandmuseum.com/1878/nz-marine-life-app to download the app.

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