Researchers use Facebook to identify 5,000 species of fish!

Last Updated: Sat, May 14, 2011 10:40 hrs

Facebook, which is known for connecting friends, has been now been used by scientists to identify thousands of varieties of fish.

University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) candidate Devin Bloom helped conduct the first ichthyological survey on Guyana's remote Cuyuni River. Led by Oregon State University's Dr. Brian Sidlauskas, the goal was to find out which species of fish live in the Cuyuni and get a good estimate of their abundance.

During the survey, Bloom and the rest of the research team spent two weeks catching as many fish as they could. But after collecting more than 5,000 specimens, the team faced the big problem of identifying them.

As a result Bloom suggested the use of social networking site. Sidlauskas uploaded photos of each species. And in less than 24 hours, their network of friends-who are "diehard fish-heads"-had identified almost every specimen. With 5,000 identifications in hand, the team was able to deliver their results to the government.

The team's novel use of Facebook to accurately crowdsource scientific data could change the way academics view social networking.

"Social networking is so powerful," he said, "and scientists should be using it more to connect with the world-at-large." (ANI)