Halifax-based eOceans, which is developing an online platform for gathering ocean data, has launched its app early to gather data on how the Covid-19 crisis is impacting the oceans and people who live near them.

Founder and CEO Christine Ward-Paige sent out a message Friday saying the company has launched its app for Android and iOS, which will allow scientists and other people around the world to input their observations on all facets of the world’s oceans.

The platform includes a databank of 560,000 marine species, allowing users to record sightings of most known plants and animals in the oceans. It also allows users to record “socio-economic and cultural values” of the people who live and work around oceans. Ward-Paige views this as one of the pillars of what the company does, and she wants to capture how Covid-19 is impacting seaside communities as well as other metrics of the ocean.

“What the world is experiencing, including at sea, is unprecedented,” she said in an email Friday. “Getting a picture of the impact on the oceans – positive or negative – will be very valuable.”

The app is available under the heading "eOcean" in Google Play and the App Store. 

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Ward-Paige is a marine scientist who received her PhD in 2010, and with eOceans she has developed a mobile app that allows scientists and “citizen-scientists” to submit data for analysis. The idea is that getting the broadest range of people possible to input data will improve the collection of ocean data, allowing for better and faster analysis.

EOceans said it is already getting reports of obvious ocean changes as humans respond to Covid-19.

“We weren’t going to release the eOceans data collection app until it was further along, but then we would missing out on documenting what’s happening right now,” said eOceans in its announcement. “So, we’ve decided to do a rollout of the software as-is. Not pretty, but functional.”

The company, which earlier this year was accepted into the Maritime Blue accelerator in Seattle, is asking anyone who lives along a coast or at sea and takes part in activities such as beach walking, diving, fishing, sailing, boating, or shipping, to download the app and start tracking what they see.

EOceans is looking for information on who is still using the ocean, where and for what. It wants to know if the ocean is busy or quiet and where the animals are.  Are there threats that are going unnoticed or untreated?

Ward-Paige would also like feedback from people using the app on their impressions of the product.

Until last week, the eOceans team – which comprises Ward-Paige and developer Majid Nasirinejad – were piloting the system with marine scientists in such places as Indonesia, Thailand, Fiji and the U.S.