Video gaming is a common pass time activity among many people confined to their homes due to the coronavirus lockdown. In a bid to make something useful out of this trend, NASA has recently developed an app that enables video-gamers and citizen scientists to help identify and classify the world’s corals by playing a virtual diving game.
Called the NASA NeMO-Net game, the app takes you on a series of virtual dives in the ocean, and your job is to identify the coral that you come across. The computer-generated underwater environments are based on data collected over the last few years by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.
To gather the data, the researchers have used highly advanced cameras allowing them to map the seafloor through the distortions of water. But as advanced as they are, the technology is not able to reveal the entire picture of the corals sitting under the waves — and that’s where you come in.
By touring around and identifying the types of coral you see in the game, and exactly where they are, you can help join some of the dots in the data that NASA has collected — all you need to do is download the game and start playing.
And if entertainment is not what you’re looking for, note that the app is educational as well, teaching you about the types of coral in the world’s oceans and about the conservation efforts to protect and restore them.
With coral reefs under threat from warming waters, increasing ocean acidification, every little effort helps in keeping these ecosystems — and the marine life that relies on them — flourish in the future.