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As part of a citizen minded and fronted conservation project, fishermen in the Philippines are utilizing smartphone apps and the Internet of Things in efforts to track and protect endangered dugongs in a bid to save the lovable looking sea creatures from extinction. These efforts are being conducted by non-professional scientists, a galvanizing call to arms for fishermen and citizens who want to do their part to protect and save dugongs by contributing to scientific research, which in this case, is overseen and managed by Smart Earth Network and C3 (Community Centered Conservation), a marine conservation non-profit.

Listed as a species extremely vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, dugongs, adorably nicknamed sea cows, are threatened by illegal poaching, local fishing and the destruction of their habitats and ecosystem. Some local fisherman at sea have been equipped with smartphones provided by local mobile provider Cherry Mobile to photograph any dugongs they may encounter and upload those images and the locational data using an app into an Internet of Things platform hosted by cloud provider Kii.

Every image of a dugong captured by fisherman using these smartphones and apps will be tagged with a locational GPS signal, allowing C3 to create a map of these sightings in order to elucidate the dugong population in a given area, as well as the state of their habitat. With this data, they can then assemble a team to offer recommendations on areas that should be protected in order to conserve and manage a dugong population while sharing this information with other conservation groups around the world.

Utilizing mobile technology and the Internet of Things for conservation efforts isn’t as farfetched as it sounds, but rather an efficient and simple approach to conservation with relatively simplistic technology to operate. Most of the fisherman equipped with these smartphones to track dugongs in the Philippines have very little reading and writing skills, yet have been trained by Cherry Mobile to conduct this task. Especially with the Internet of Things, the process of collecting, storing, sharing and transmitting data has become faster and easier than ever before. As concerned citizens utilize this tech and collaborate on the common goal of protecting a species in need, dugongs might just have a fighting chance.

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