Free fish ID app released for the iPhone!

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The Smithsonian Guide to the Shore Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific has been released as a fully operational field guide by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

The free application is thought to be the first of its kind offering unique fish-finding, list-making tools as well as range maps which should prove to be a powerful tool for scientists, divers and tour guides.  

The area represented spans from Baja California to Ecuador, and including the Galapagos, is one of three major centres of marine biodiversity.

The iPhone app is the latest step in the evolution of the original book – Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific – which has seen itself released as a bi-lingual interactive compact disc in 2002, and via the internet in 2008. The book contained detailed descriptions of nearly 700 species.

"Now, not only can you carry the means to identify almost 1300 species in your pocket, this application surpasses many of the currently available field guides in its ability to create and share lists that correspond to specific regions or field trips," said Robertson. "We also made it portable: The information is all in your phone so you don't need to be connected to a server to use it...important when you are out at sea."

Lists can be browsed alphabetically, by species and family. It allows you to use identification keys and perform combination searches on name, location, shape, pattern and colour characteristics to help identify unknown fishes.

A notebook feature allows users to keep track of species, and keep annotated lists of fish all of which can be exported by email.

The species page includes common names as well as scientific names, species images, detailed description, key features to distinguish it from similar species and a map of the species range. The information is stored in the apps database, and can be used to search for a fish.

There’s even a glossary of scientific terms which makes the guide accessible to hobbyists, and further information relates any extinction risk status on the IUCN Red List.

We believe that this is an exciting and refreshing app that has huge potential for future developments of similar apps. It should prove to be a fantastic model for future apps, which will hopefully be available via Android too!

Using this model, apps could be developed for hobbyists to take with them to their fish stores so that they are fully informed when looking at potential purchases.

Find the guide by searching in the iTunes store for "fishes east pacific" or by following this link directly to the iTunes store.

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