Sharkrunners Lets You Play Marine Biologist


Here’s a blog from publishing house O’Reilly on a Discovery Channel online game called Sharkrunners that lets you play the part of a marine biologist tracking sharks, many endangered. You get a virtual boat and virtual crew but track real-life sharks tagged with GPS receivers. When your boat encounters a shark, you’re alerted via email and/or SMS. You get three hours to collect data about the shark, the goal being to collect as much data as possible. (Okay, in the real world more data is not always better, case in point: our overwhelmed intelligence agencies, but…) As Brady Forrest at O’Reilly reports:

My boat, the Roo, has just left the port of San Luis Obispo. We had our first encounter 15 minutes after leaving port. Now that I have some funding I’ll probably get another crew member (which increases the likelihood of my getting data and decreases the likelihood of my crew dying) or upgrade my boat (a better craft allows me to stay out to sea longer). My single shark encounter netted me $2,200. Given that the game launched a week and players already have over $700,000, I think the players really like it.

Sounds like fun for everyone. Except the sharks. JULIA WHITTY

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  • Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here.