Possibilities for new platform

Hi all,

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.

Best regards,


Hi Rowan,

Thanks for reaching out, and great to hear from you!

We are actively developing a grouper-focused Wildbook in support of a non-profit customer. They have expressed a willingness to fold this species into the platform in collaboration.

Would you be willing to operate your project in a collaborative platform with other orgs and species?


Hi Jason,

Thanks for getting back to me, that’s great news, and yes it’s good to be back in touch! Just to update, WEI is now bringing me on board as a marine science consultant and I will be sitting on their scientific research committee in that capacity.

Part of my mandate will be to develop and oversee these kinds of collaborations.

We would love to come on board in collaboration with a grouper-focused Wildbook and I am happy to curate or co-curate E. tukula sightings.

The one caveat from WEI head office is that they just want to be sure that any organisations we collaborate with are in line with WEI’s ‘aesthetic’ and reputation. As I said to them, I’m sure there will be no issue there, considering the type of organisation WildMe usually partners with. Is it possible to let us know which organisation you’re working with to develop the platform (if not now, at some stage before launch)?

The other question I have right now is what timeframe are you looking at in terms of developing and launching the platform. Mainly curiosity, as WEI is able to keep using our offline database in the meantime until we can migrate sightings across.

Let me know if you prefer to connect for a quick chat via Skype, otherwise I’ll wait to hear back from you here.

All the best,