|Type of project||Marine biodiversity|
|Key people||Kerry Sink|
|Funding||Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme/National Research Foundation|
SeaKeys is a large collaborative marine biodiversity project funded through the Foundational Biodiversity Information Program in South Africa. The purpose of the project is to collect and distribute genetic, species and ecosystem information relating to marine biodiversity in southern Africa, which may be used to support informed decision-making about the marine environment.
The aim of the project is to collect and make available genetic, species and ecosystem information about Southern African marine biodiversity. This information is expected to be useful to support conservation planning to inform decisions regarding exploitation of marine resources.
There is a known deficit in marine and coastal biodiversity databases for most taxa in South Africa. SeaKeys is part of an effort to change this. A part of the project is to use DNA barcoding of common, invasive, commercially important, rare and endangered marine species to aid estimating species diversity and distributions. The barcodes are accessible through the Barcode of Life Database
The project public launch was held at the Iziko South Africa Museum on 18 March 2014.
- National Research Institute (NRF) – Intermediary agency between the Government of South Africa and South Africa's research institutions
- Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF)
- Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) – Department of the South African national government
- South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) – Institution under the South African Department of Environmental Affairs
- Iziko Museums of South Africa – A South African national museum in Cape Town
- South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) – A network of people, organisations and observation platforms, that perform Long-Term Ecological Research in South Africa and surrounding waters
- South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) – Centre for the study of aquatic biodiversity in Grahamstown, South Africa
- Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI)
- Nelson Mandela University (NMU)
- University of Cape Town (UCT)
- University of the Western Cape (UWC)
- Stellenbosch University (US) – University in South Africa
- University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
- Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
- South African National Parks (SANParks) – The body responsible for managing South Africa's national parks.
- WWF Nedbank Green Trust
- Birdlife South Africa
- Southern Underwater Research Group (SURG)
Citizen science input
The citizen science component is a major input for several new biodiversity atlas projects. There are species mapping subprojects which include a fish atlas, a sea slug atlas, an atlas for corals, seafans and anemones, one for jellyfish and an atlas for echinoderms. Citizen science input is largely by way of entering observations supported by an identifiable photograph of the observed organism, along with details of date, location, tentative identification and other information on any one of the web-based platforms associated with the project.
The project uses three web-based platforms to collect marine species observations. SA Jellywatch i-Spot and EchinoMAP (using Google Earth maps or GPS co-ordinates) to create detailed distributions of South African marine species.
Crowdsourced data is provided largely by recreational scuba divers and recreational angling clubs, but a large amount of data is also provided by professional scientists from field observations. A small percentage is sourced from historical photographs, mostly of fish.
- iSpot hosted by the Open University, and Echinomap at the University of Cape Town allow for uploading of photographs of marine organisms along with date and locality information.
- SA Jellywatch at University of the Western Cape records public participation in tracking jellyfish distributions and abundance.
- Most of the data on iSpot was later migrated to iNaturalist when iSpot was found to be unsuitable for the purpose.
SeaKeys is funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa through the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme.
- "SeaKeys Project". biodiversityadvisor.sanbi.org. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "SeaKeys: Unlocking Foundational Marine Biodiversity Knowledge". www.iziko.org.za. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "SeaKeys: Unlocking foundational marine biodiversity knowledge". www.saiab.ac.za. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- Sink, Kerry; Atkinson, Lara. "New marine science and species mapping project supports wise decision making". www.saeon.ac.za. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "SeaKeys: Unlocking Foundational Biodiversity Information". www.sanbi.org. Retrieved 17 February 2019.