Manta rays are large eagle rays belonging to the genus Manta. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7 m (23 ft 0 in) in width while the smaller, M. alfredi, reaches 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in). Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. They are classified among the Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) and are placed in the eagle ray family, Myliobatidae. Both species are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Anthropogenic threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine. Their slow reproductive rate exacerbates these threats. They are protected in international waters by the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, but are more vulnerable closer to shore. Areas where mantas congregate are popular with tourists. Only a few aquariums are large enough to house them. In general, these large fish are seldom seen and difficult to study.
Lesser Goldfinches are tiny, stub-billed songbirds with long, pointed wings, and short, notched tails. Color Pattern Males are bright yellow below with a glossy black cap and white patches in the wings; their backs can be glossy black or dull green (particularly on the West Coast). They have a black tail with large, white corners. Females and immatures have olive backs, dull yellow underparts, and black wings marked by two whitish wingbars.
For the developers at New York start-up Networked Organisms, smartphones are the butterfly nets of the 21st Century. Their tool, Project Noah, lets people upload photos of plants and wildlife around them, creating a map of the natural world and contributing to scientific research in the process.
Bespectacled scientists of yore would carry around hefty field guides, made up of hundreds of pages of text and photos. But these days, smartphone owners have a lighter option: an app called Project Noah, which aims to help people identify plants and animals as well as collect data from "citizen scientists" about where certain species are located.
Project Noah enables us to be part of a more focused online community where we can learn more about wildlife around us and contribute to scientific research. It pulls participants into deeper, more meaningful engagement by enabling people to go on “missions” to collectively map changes based on sightings.
A modern invention that may also hold the key to saving species in the future. Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter, using a purpose built phone app and web community. In addition to the virtual "collection" of species, Project Noah encourages citizen science by linking up with existing surveys including the International Spider Survey and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.