Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More on Using Flickr to crowdsource new biodiversity! How many South African Starfish can we find?

Can we discover what and where species live by using holiday pictures and dive photos??
I recently saw that a recent newsbit here featured the range extensions of some "rare" or more precisely seldom encountered species including Astropecten regalis, Meyenaster gelatinosus, and the big orange spiny one called Paulia horrida

Truth be told, all 3 of these species are found in that tropical east Pacific area..and so, finding them in Peru (a poorly studied area) is really not much of a surprise..

BUT, I thought..wouldn't it be interesting if I did something just like this..but just using Flickr!! Using the accumulated pictures from people all around the world? Divers! Vacationers! Photographers! Aquarium goers!

Can we crowdsource biodiversity using the Internet??

Let's find out.

Some dynamics...

1. I do not own any of these images. These have all been "crowdsourced" from Flickr and are available here via the embed code for each picture. They have NOT been uploaded.

2. Animals are sometimes difficult to identify from pictures.

3. Why South Africa? South Africa is unusual in that it occurs right at the confluence between the tropical south Indian Ocean, the south Pacific, and the subAntarctic..so there's an interesting temperate water mix of animals that you really don't find anywhere else in the world. Its very distinctive.
map from Wikipedia!

Plus, its a suitably exotic fauna (at least to those of us not in South Africa!) that its interesting to readers.

Thanks to generous photographer Bernard Picton I was able to show off some rarely seen South African species awhile back. Click here to see!

New Records or maybe even new species?

Neoferdina or Paraferdina? (Goniasteridae) from Aliwal Shaol, KZN, South Africa

Further examination of a specimen would be necessary..but this is an intriguing possible new record..
starfish x
photo by Geoff Spiby on Flickr

Here's an Anthenea or some oreasterid that I haven't been able to ID to species.. Again, the literature has no record of an animal of this kind from South Africa per se.. But this is at the northern range.

Note also the little parasitic white snail living on the top!
Starfish on the reef
Photo by Genna S on Flickr

Here are some of the more frequently encountered species...
Family Asterinidae-Patiriella dyscrita (H.L. Clark, 1923)

A temperate, shallow water "cushion star".
2009 01 08 - 00500 [6757]
2009 01 08 - 00501 [6758]
The above two images by by Chris Liberty, on Flickr

Family Asterinidae-Callopatiria granifera Gray, 1847 from South Africa
Not much known about it-but occurs in more temperate waters.
Granular starfish (Austrofromia schultzei)
Above two photos by Derek Keats on Flickr

Starfish macro
by Coda on Flickr

Family Echinasteridae-Henricia ornata (Perrier, 1869)

Not much known about it-but occurs in more temperate waters.
Granular starfish (Austrofromia schultzei)

Family Oreasteridae-Culcita schmideliana (Retzius, 1805) from Rynie, Kwazulu Natal

This is closely related to the widespread cushion star Culcita novaeguineae which occurs in the Pacific. Culcita schmideliana occurs primarily in the Indian Ocean in shallow, tropical reef habitats.

This species is differentiated by the large distinct tubercles..
photo by cathm2 on Flickr

Family Oreasteridae- Pentaceraster mammilatus (Audoin, 1826)

A widely distributed starfish in Oreasteridae. Tropical, shallow-water species. Closely related to Protoreaster nodosus which is found in the tropical central Pacific.

Full biology is poorly understood but possibly a microalgal film feeder..
Starfish 3
both images by jovdam on Flickr

A rather curiously colored Choriaster granulatus
Image by Mark Kenny
Ferdina sadhensis Marsh & Campbell, 1991 Umkomaas, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

This species was only recorded from South Africa in 1996 and was originally described from Oman from only 5 specimens!
Sea Star
photo by BBM Explorer on Flickr
Sea star at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
photo by Derek Keats on Flickr
Starfish 2
photo by jovdam on Flickr

Family Goniasteridae-Fromia elegans H.L. Clark 1921

Widely distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific. A tropical shallow water species.
photo by Henry & Tersia, on Flickr

Red starfish
photo by genna S on Flickr

Family Asteriidae Marthasterias glacialis (Linnaeus, 1758)

A widespread temperate water species. It occurs from the North Atlantic on the European coast down to South Africa. Feeds on bivalves and other mollusks.
Knysna, South-Africa (23/04/07)
Image by Jinnie Lips
Atlantic (8)

photo by jtresfon, on Flickr
photo by aimless shears on Flickr
starfish sculpture

photo by Mark Jutton on Flickr
So, that's 10 species here..plus Calliaster baccatus from my earlier Echinoblog. But here's a new pic from Haerlem Wreck
Cobbled Starfish (Calliaster baccatus)
Photo by Photopixie2
There was a time when folks would have to be a world expert scientist or diver to see South African species of ANY thing.

Amazingly, (if you know what to look for) today you can find nearly a dozen species of starfish just by browsing through a photostream!!

Here's a cool looking Basket star for good measure!
One of my favourite underwater creatures - a Basket Star (Astrocladus euryale)
By Photopixie2

1 comment:

Erich Koch said...

Really love this site!