It’s great to be on the WildMe forum, thanks for having me!
Just some quick background: it’s been a while since I worked with marine megafauna - I’ve been busy with a PhD in coral restoration techniques in central Indonesia, which I now have to finish remotely from Botswana, due to Covid-related issues.
I ran marine ecology training and citizen science ID database projects for Wildlife and Ecological Investments (WEI) in Sodwana Bay, South Africa from 2012 to 2016 and we had dedicated turtle (C.mydas, E.imbricata and C.caretta) and potato bass (Epinephelus tukula) databases for the populations on the reef there.
I am now also helping WEI to revamp the project there and was delighted to see Internet of Turtles up and running. Now that I have a personal login, I have created a project on IOT for WEI marine students in Sodwana Bay to load turtle sightings.
I wanted to ask about the possibility and what would be involved in setting up a platform for E.tukula? Is there a way to use the platform framework for Giant Sea Bass for example as a foundation, as I imagine the ID process would be quite similar in terms of identifying blotch pattern (although I also suppose that the AI would need to still go through the machine learning process for a new E.tukula platform?)
When I was in Sodwana up to 2016 I started the database for E.tukula using the I3S Spot software and adding multiple ellipses to irregular shaped blotches and the ID process worked very well. E.tukula is a flagship species in Sodwana Bay (in iSimangaliso National Park - a World Heritage Site) and the most common apex predator on the reef system. A potato bass/grouper platform would also be applicable to many areas in the southwest Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific. I believe it would also provide valuable information on reef fidelity in specific areas.
I would love to hear thoughts from the WildMe developers about the feasibility of creating this platform and what would be entailed? If there are requirements, for example, for a certain number of sightings to be uploaded for AI machine learning, WEI would be happy to work in partnership to achieve this, using the historical on-site database sightings from Sodwana Bay recorded over the last 8 years.