A new iPhone app allowing users to send labelled photos of oiled wildlife direct to rescue databases has been developed to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
The Mobile Gulf Observatory (MoGO) application was built in just a week by University of Massachusetts computer scientists in a bid to track the spread of the oil.
It asks users to take pictures of any wildlife affected by tar balls on the shoreline and prompts them to label the animal or plant as dead, injured or alive.
The app then sends the photo, information, and location to a central database used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Wildlife Hotline.
At the press of a button the MoGO app will also connect users to the Hotline if they think an animal needs particularly urgent help.
University of Massachusetts researcher Tingxin Yan said ”citizen science” would help experts find wildlife affected by the Gulf spill more quickly.
He said: ”You can’t have a single user look at all of them, so you need the crowd.”