Monday, 23 February 2015

Top 2 Sea Life Apps - reviewed in time for Sea Week

Sea Week is approaching fast, a good time for schools, parents and public to turn their attention to the treasures of the sea.  Sea Week 2015 runs from 28 February to 8 March and the theme this year is "Look beneath the surface - Papatai o roto - Papatai o raro".

Unlike a trip to the beach or the bush, it's hard to show children what lives under the sea, although there are more and more great programmes to get kids snorkelling and out and about on the ocean. Sometimes books, the internet and Apps are what is needed to give a good picture of what is beneath the surface. Our book "Under the Ocean" aims to do just that for younger readers and we've worked on showing different habitats, reefs, sea floor, deep ocean etc as well as some of the creatures that live there. But there was a limit to how many animals we could show so I've been looking at websites and apps to help parents, teachers and kids find out more about what is beneath the surface of our oceans. Some of the best are listed in our notes for children, parents and educators. You'll find tips and ideas here for activities and reading the book too.

Now for my top two Apps - what's more they are free!

The Whale Watch App covers the marine mammals and birds that visitors to Kaikoura might see. As well as a picture of each species and information about them, the App allows people to post sightings of that particular species to Facebook. The little picture that pops up with the post, gets around the difficulty that most visitors will have of getting a good photograph of the animals.  I also like the two Conservation Challenges - which pose questions and propose action. While this App is designed for tourists, locals (not just those in Kaikoura) will enjoy it too, and it is pitched at a level that will suit families,  parents reading to their children, and primary school children using it themselves.

I've been using Auckland Museum's New Zealand Marine Life App since their superb Moana - My Ocean exhibition in 2013.  I was delighted to have access to the information about such a wide range of sea creatures. There's one thing about the presentation that could be a drawback - the information is written in reversed out text (white text on a black background). This is harder to read than dark text on a light background - the black appears to bleed into the letters narrowing them and adding challenges for young readers. But I've since discovered that the basic format of this App is the same as those used by the Museum of Victoria for a series of Field Guides, so I can see that Auckland Museum may not have had a choice when it comes to the black backgrounds.  When it comes to the information, unless you live in Auckland you'll need to ignore the map. At first I took the map to mean that the animal I was reading about was only found in Auckland, then I realised the App only shows where the animal lives in the Auckland region, so provides no information on habitats outside of the region.  Apart from these two details it's a great resource to have handy when you are off to the beach or the ocean.

Related Posts:
3 Top Nature Websites for Kiwi Kids all three of the websites include some ocean life, one exclusively so.