By Emily Roden
The great thing about fishing, besides freshly grilled seafood, lifelong friendships and unabated fun, is that it connects us all. Worldwide estimates reveal that about 700 million people on the planet fish for recreation. That’s about 10 percent of our 7.67 billion friends and neighbors. This love of fishing brought together the skills of our famous resident marine artist and a husband and wife from the computer world of Silicon Valley.
After three decades living in Silicon Valley and fishing on weekends with their kids, Tom and Jane Wye relocated to South Florida to retire. One day on a fishing trip, Jane asked an innocent question, “What is this fish?” Then she said, “We’re from Silicon Valley! Why isn’t there an app that identifies fish species?” And that’s how the FishAngler app was born. In early 2021, Dr. Guy Harvey teamed up with Tom and Jane to integrate high-technology into marine science and conservation education and research.
“FishAngler is a data-driven, user-focused platform for fishing enthusiasts around the world. The app gives expertise to almost anyone,” explains Tom, FishAngler’s CEO. “It helps with forecasting the best time to go fishing, weather, wind, wave, sun and moon forecasts.” Users can upload pictures of their catches, along with an incredibly rich array of data, such as species, lure choice, GPS location and more.
The ripple effects of this type of data collection go far beyond sportfishing. “We’re thinking about the implications for fish and game departments and conservation efforts, and educational organizations,” said Jane. “With more than 33,000 species already identified in our database, we’re gathering information on new species of fish and how to identify them.”
This type of research led the Wye’s to develop Fishial.AI. Just like facial recognition, “Fishial” recognition is an artificial intelligence tool used to suggest what fish species is in the image in question. The goal of Fishial.AI is to build the world’s largest, labeled, open-source fish image database. Fishial can be used to assist in global marine conservation efforts.
This year, FishAngler and Fishial.AI joined the world’s leading shark research groups as a presenting sponsor of the Guy Harvey Great Shark Race. The research project is run by GHOF and the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University and was created to aid in tracking the movements and habits of mako sharks, marlin and several other marine animals.
During the Great Shark Race, fin-mounted satellite tags utilize the latest in tracking technology to allow researchers and the public to follow the sharks online in near real-time via the GHRI Tracking Website: GHRItracking.org/makosharks. FishAngler is eager to share near real-time tracking of their tagged mako shark to drive awareness of the race and the threat many of these fish face from bycatch and overfishing. After six months and hundreds of thousands of miles logged, the race will crown its winner on July 14, 2021, coinciding with International Shark Awareness Day.
For more information, visit FishAngler.com/guyharveymag