Tour the ocean depths with marine biology apps

Jan 15, 2015
Tech

These five mobile apps make junior marine biologists out of students who feel they have a kinship with all living things. They aid in the identification of organisms, biology literacy, and oceanography.

Scientists believe studying sea-dwelling creatures and mammals’ genetic properties, like the recently completed genome of a 200-year-old bowhead whale discovered in 2007, can unlock tricks for longer human life spans. These five mobile apps make junior marine biologists out of students who feel they have a kinship with all living things. They aid in the identification of organisms, biology literacy, and oceanography.

Ocean Science (iOS, $2.99)

The Ocean Science iPad app bases its experience around seven essential principles including One Ocean, Supreme Power, Out of the Water, The Origin, Another World, The Great Provider, and The Final Frontier. While all are relevant to aspiring marine biologists Another World shows an animation of Whale Fall Biology. The app’s gorgeous presentation, whether through 360 degree images or movies, constructs the most interesting examination of Earth’s oceans available on the iTunes App Store.

A Whale of a Tale! (Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat) (iOS, $5.99)

This entertaining interactive storybook from Oceanhouse Media was designed for children between 4 and 8 years old and aims, first and foremost, to improve literacy. However, A Whale of a Tale! doubles as an introduction to cetacean mammals with interactive glossary terms and diagrams that illuminate the ocean depths. The Cat in the Hat acts as tour guide for youngsters through the rhyming book, where they will learn the similarities and differences between dolphins, porpoises, narwhals, and more. A Whale of a Tale! dispenses wave after wave of educational content for Pre-K to Elementary students.

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Phyto (iOS Android, Free)

Although Phyto hasn’t seen an update in four years, the free app offers a pointed approach to identifying and studying phytoplankton, which are crucial to every water-based ecosystem. Each page displays the phytoplankton’s name, images, and the pronunciation (try saying Rhizosolenia morphotype five times fast). The Phyto app is no-frills, but important for knowing the upper organisms that live amidst the surfaces of water bodies and produce carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. After studying students can work with the app’s flashcards to test their retention.

Deep Sea ID (iOS, Free)

The World Register of Deep-Sea Species presents Deep Sea ID, another bare-bones reference guide of over 20,000 species that dwell in the cavernous parts of oceans. Students can view information and some images for Animalia, Bacteria, Chromista and Protozoa. Each page displays the name, rank, and extensive records and secondary sources (none of which are Wikipedia). A photo slideshow of over 450 deep-sea dwelling critters can be viewed by tapping the camera icon. While high school students probably will not need to memorize even a fraction of the specimens, this vast app provides the ultimate reference guide to deep-sea life. However, college students and educators interested in marine biology should download this free app right away.

Ocean Life ID (iOS Android, Free)

Filled with detailed illustrations and photos, Ocean Life ID is a fantastic mobile app for identifying aquatic species. Animals are separated by groups (Mammals, Reptilia, etc.) and even further into species pages that present interactive identification criteria for narrowing a student’s search. For example, they can select the animal’s distribution (region), body shape, if it has external ear pinnae or tusks and more, based on the particular species. From animal detail pages, students can read a short description, the conservation status, and the type of oceanic environment where they can find their chosen sea creature.

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Stephen Danos

Stephen Danos is the Associate Editor for appoLearning.com, AndroidApps.com, and Appolicious. He has contributed to articles published on TechCrunchThe Chicago Sun TimesThe Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

He received his BA in English from the University of Iowa and MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012) and Gravitational (The New Megaphone, forthcoming).

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