Spotter App & Server Updated!!

Greetings All!

As we quickly approach the end of 2014, the Conserve.IO team would like to thank all of our partners for a year of strong growth.  We’ve been working on a number of improvements to both the Spotter Server and Spotter Pro App and wanted to let everyone know what we’ve been up to.

Recent Server Improvements

Deployed in conjunction with Whale Alert 2.0 in September, the Spotter Server supports a number of new features to help managers collect and manage data.  Organizations can now designate ‘admin’ users for the Spotter server with permissions to delete sightings and/or trips.  Whale sightings from the public facing Whale Alert app are now available for each organization based on their regional boundaries.  Managers can set species specific or general e-mail alerts based on Whale Alert sightings within their region whenever a sighting meets their criteria.  

We’ve posted a Server user guide at the following link:


Upcoming App Updates

We are hopeful that the pending Spotter Pro app update will fix the two most common issues with the Spotter App.  First, the app will now properly track trip data by user, so if a user needs to re-login via the app to upload data, any existing trips will be preserved.  Second, we have identified and fixed the issue we believe was causing the app to slow down during extended offshore trips.  This fix should insure the app remains responsive for quick sighting entry under all conditions.


As part of the app updating process, we are also bringing the Spotter interface up to iOS 8 requirements.  This requires that we drop support for iOS 5 and 6 so Spotter will no longer work on iPad 1 devices as of the next Spotter app update (again, projected for mid to late November).  This change will allow us to simplify future feature extensions and eliminate a number of potential performance issues when trying to retain compatibility with older devices.  


Help Us Design New Features

Here is a look at some new features that are on our short-term development list.  We welcome your feedback on these as well as suggestions for any improvements we can make to the Spotter system to align it to your organizational needs.

Server Features:

  • Integration of Whale Alert sighting photos (and by extension the framework to support attaching photos to sightings in the Spotter App)

  • Data export filters for date ranges via the Spotter website

  • Universal Species table (to index species across projects by scientific name) and allow for more advanced analysis, filtering, and grouping.  We’d like feedback on what we should include, metadata wise, for each species

  • Direct tagging of all GPS points in a trip track as ‘on’ or ‘off’ effort

  • Direct tagging of all non-sighting point events (behaviors, weather, etc) with GPS location in addition to the existing time-stamp

App Features:

  • Reticle widget to directly calculate sighting location via reticle, bearing, and observer height (we will record all inputs to the calculation as well in the case of later reprocessing)

  • Option to include an Effort ‘Toggle’ switch in a project to track effort status over the course of a trip

  • Improved sliders, buttons, and other UI elements for easier use on moving platforms

he easiest way to provide any and all feedback is to go our contact form and jot down your thoughts. We greatly appreciate your time and help and, please, enjoy the update!!

-The Conserve.IO Team 

So very cool...the albino whale returns to Australia.

This week, an extremely rare albino whale was spotted off the coast of Australia. The whale's name is Migaloo, the Aboriginal word for "white fellow." This is the third year in a row Migaloo has been spotted on his annual migration, lovingly referred to as a whale parade. Now Australian Migaloo watchers are tracking his every movement — on Thursday he was spotted making his way past the Sydney coast.

Read more on The Wire...

The gift of back to the Ocean - safely.

From our friends at Florida Fish & Wildlife...


FWC "Gone Coastal" fishing column: Helping your fish survive helps you

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 01/16/2014 11:30 AM EST


November “Gone Coastal” column

By Guest Columnist Amanda Nalley


Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to


Helping your fish survive helps you


Imagine for a minute you are out to sea, line wet, with about 150 feet of water separating boat from the bottom. You feel a tug. Instinct kicks in and you want to yank up to set the hook, but you remember that doesn’t work with circle hooks, a required gear when fishing for reef fish like snapper and grouper in all Gulf waters and in federal waters of the Atlantic south of 28 degrees north latitude. So you gently start reeling it in, hoping nothing eats your catch before you can get it to the boat.

Alas, the fish surfaces, but it is too small to keep and it seems to be experiencing barotrauma, a condition that occurs when the gases in the swim bladder expand after being brought to the surface from depth.

STOP! The choices you make from here on can greatly impact whether or not that fish you are about to release survives to be caught another day. Do you know what to do?

Post-release fish survival should be important to all anglers. The more fish that survive being caught and subsequently released, the more fish there will be in general. This can eventually mean extension of open seasons, increases in bag limits and more successful fishing trips.

While every situation is different, there are plenty of things you can do to help maximize the survival of fish you plan on releasing, from using wet hands when touching a fish to holding your catch horizontally. Matching your gear to the size fish you are targeting can help shorten the time it takes to get the fish to the boat, which can help a fish survive if released because it will be less exhausted.

If your fish is experiencing barotrauma, time is of the essence. Barotrauma can potentially cause injury to the internal organs as they are pushed out of the body (signs of this include stomach protruding from mouth, intestines protruding from the anus, eyes bulging out and bloated belly).

There are two main types of tools currently used to help relieve the effects of barotrauma. Venting tools are hollow, sharpened devices (think a syringe without the plunger) that can be used to release the expanded gases. Descending devices, which are used to send the fish back down to depth, also have promise.

Until recently, it has been required to have and use venting tools when fishing for reef fish in the Gulf, but this requirement was removed in federal waters last year and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted to remove the requirement in state waters last November. The rule change should go in effect around the end of the month.

The removal of this rule will give anglers the ability to choose the best method to maximize survival of released fish.

For example, on a hot summer day, using a descending device might be a better option because you are quickly returning the fish to the cooler water at the bottom.

And while venting, when done correctly can help, not all fish need to be vented.

Both tools have advantages and disadvantages.

Hit a hot spot? It is possible to vent and release several fish in the same amount of time it would take to descend a single fish. Then again, not everyone feels confident on when, where and how to vent. Going too deep or venting in the wrong place can cause more damage than good.

But you also need to know what you are doing when using a descending device. If done incorrectly, the fish may come loose too soon. Descending devices also can require the dedication of a rod, which is used to bring the descending device down and back up again.

While both devices can be homemade or purchased and while both are inexpensive, descending devices can cost, on average, slightly more than venting tools. Both devices also come in various sizes, but venting tools tend to generally be smaller than descending devices and do not take up a lot of space in an already-crowded tackle box.

Either way, the choice is yours. So shop around, be sure to read the instructions thoroughly and, hopefully, take home a keeper or two.

For more on how to make sure your fish survives release, visit and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”




EBM Webinar: Tools for Marine Conservation

We are presenting  to the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) Tools Network next week. Join us as we go through the various tools (Spotter, Alert) and their applications (the full synopsis follows after the webinar registration link below). 

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Apps for Marine Conservation by Jake Levenson and Brad Winney of Conserve.IOUnderstanding changes to animal and plant species and their environments is crucial to the long-term well-being of our planet, but current methods for recording and publishing conservation data are antiquated, proprietary and expensive. Conserve.IO is deploying mobile, web and crowdsourcing technology to simplify and scale the collection of conservation data and make that data more actionable. Conserve.IO founders worked with NOAA's Stellwagwen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to build Whale Alert. Whale Alert is the first mobile application to make the process of complying with regulations intended to protect right whales in the N.E. United States much easier, and potentially, reduce the number of fatal whale strikes. Conserve.IO is now working to bring this functionality across the spectrum of critically endangered species and habitats. Current app platforms include Spotter and Alert. Spotter uses smart phone GPS to facilitate geo-data collection and provides a customizable data driven back-end, cloud-based data collection and synchronization. It incorporates multiple base-map layers such as bathymetry and imagery and can incorporate alerts zones. Alert automatically displays GPS triggered "Do's and Don'ts" by species, seasonal limits and region. It can integrate multiple layers of maps, satellite imagery and weather and can be published to over 30,000 boating mobile application users. This webinar will demonstrate Spotter and Alert as well as discuss Conserve.IO’s vision for standardizing conservation collection effort, harnessing crowd-sourcing for scientific research, and taking innovative new approaches to big data challenges. Learn more at 

Webinar co-hosted by the OpenChannels.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: us for a Webinar on November 6

Title:Apps for Marine Conservation by Jake Levenson and Brad Winney of Conserve.IOWednesday, November 6, 2013Date:1:00 AM - 2:00 PM ESTTime:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 ServerRequired: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mac®-based attendeesRequired: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet
Mobile attendees


The Manatee Alert app is finally out...

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 2.37.11 PM.png

We finally pushed out the app designed to give boaters (in Florida) more tools to avoid injuring this endangered species. The free app which you can download here provides a heads-up display alerting boaters when they are approaching slow speed zones and protected areas. The times are seasonally adjusted and reflect the latest information from Florida's Fish & Wildlife Commission. 

The app also make the process of reporting an injured, distressed or the harassment of Manatee's a lot easier with one button clicks routing calls and form submissions to the proper authorities .




Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 2.41.47 PM.png
Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 2.41.57 PM.png

There Has Got To Be A Better Way....

It's been 17 years since I first became involved in field research and while the many on-the-water-hijinks and marine life encounters will always be the most vivid memories; I’ll never forget that first data sheet I completed.  Clad in a dripping wetsuit, trying to warm up between dives surveying eelgrass beneath the cold May waters off Gloucester, Massachusetts. I gripped the pencil, tip sharpened with my dive knife, while my supervisor watched me transcribe notes from our dive slate to the paper form.  All the while I did my best to keep saltwater runoff from ruining the allegedly waterproof paper form.  I don’t care what anyone says, there’s just no such thing as waterproof paper.                           

Back in the lab I'd again transcribe my field notes from paper to an excel spreadsheet where all our data lived and would eventually be used for analysis. I'd spend a solid half day entering data into that excel spreadsheet for every four or five days in the field. It was my first job doing field work and in the seventeen years that followed I've participated in field research on coral reef fishes in Belize, Humpback Whales in Massachusetts, sharks in Honduras, sea turtles in Dominica and even vessel trip reporting data submitted by the fishing industry to the National Marine Fisheries Service.  The same thought I first had in Gloucester has occurred to me regularly for years since -why isn't there a better way?

Dozens of field research projects, who knows how many paper forms ruined, hundreds more forms entered into databases and countless transcription errors corrected later, I'm excited to be part of Conserve.IO- a company working to enable researchers to leverage mobile technology to make research and conservation more effective.  If we do our job right, the paper form will soon become extinct and it’s disappearance ushers in a new age of data collection that is our way of helping stem the loss of biodiversity.  In upcoming blogs I’ll share news on our efforts to enable data collection and dissemination using mobile technology-I’ll share with you information on how to tackle those fears of data loss, return on investment, and equipment durability in the field.  While I’ll never be able to eliminate the waterlogged, mosquito bitten, feelings that come with anyone’s field work, I’m confident Conserve.IO is a catalyst for understanding biogeography, capturing high quality ecological data, and enabling conservation communications like never before.  Paper forms, your days are numbered…

Here at Conserve.IO we’re not just about enabling better data collection for scientists, we want to leverage the one billion smartphones already out there as a network of citizen scientists.  Imagine if we had one billion eyes on the planet, we could do some amazing things to better understand the world around us.  Smartphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Those one billion phones are expected to double by 2015.  Leveraging that explosive market for conservation of our natural world is what we are all about.  Imagine if those billion smartphones were pointed at the world around us?  They could become an army of naturalists monitoring how plant and animal distribution is changing as our climate changes, people could use their smartphones to tell us about a new invasive species in their backyard and the millions of whale watchers around the world could be mapping the worlds whales in a coordinated global effort.  Just imagine all the great conservation data that might flood in if we enabled a way for those billion smartphones to act as tiny sensors monitoring our planet? t  Well, that’s exactly what we’re accomplishing as we enable mobile data collection like never before.

The imaginary line....

The linked article is about protecting Otters and it make the point that otters don't know about the arbitrary lines we as humans draw up to protect them. We make the point that we as humans do and a central thrust of our offering is to make it much easier for humans to understand where those lines are (in this case, areas where Otters are not to be messed with).