Worried about what some marine scientists say is an alarming decline of plankton? You should be, because the little things underpin the ocean's food chain. Bigger creatures eat them for nourishment. Without plankton, it could be bye-bye to the fishes in the seas.
Alas, if you are a sailor, even a casual one, you can help. Next time you head out boating on a Saturday afternoon, as you pack the cold beer and the sandwiches, there's something else that you should bring. And you can put it right on your smartphone or tablet computer.
Scientists at Plymouth University in the U.K. have developed an app that allows you to easily enter data about the presence of plankton, the BBC reports. Users can subsequently load the information into a giant database that includes readings from around the world, providing a big picture of international plankton comings and goings and perhaps giving clues about solutions (editorial comment: novel nuclear reactors could help).
It's another example of the "crowdsourcing" trend of using technology to enlist the help of the masses, and not the first time it has taken to the high seas. Another maritime project is recruiting people to record ocean depths. In a different twist, one crowdsourcing company is seeking assistance in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.