The Digital Atlas of Marine Species and Locations (DAMSL) Project is a collaboration between award-winning photographer Myron Wang and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Wang donated his extensive photographic collection of more than 5,000 images of fish, corals, invertebrates and other marine life to the Rosenstiel School, and conveyed his vision to create a way to share these photos to educate and inspire the general public about the rich underwater ecosystems that exist throughout the globe.

Through several years of collaboration with Dr. John Gifford, associate professor of Marine Affairs and Policy at the Rosenstiel School and the help of Rosenstiel School students, Wang’s catalogue of images has been transformed into a navigable tool for students, teachers and everyone interested in learning about the diversity of marine life.

Approximately 3,400 of the images have now been scanned in for use in the atlas. Users may search the DAMSL database by geographic location or by type of marine life, using simple dropdown menus. Each search will yield a thumbnail collection of Wang’s photographs that meet the parameters given. (For instance, searching “bannerfish” yields photographs including the Longfin, Pennant and Red Sea bannerfish.) Each thumbnail image will include encyclopedic information on the marine life depicted, including scientific name, common name, kingdom, class, family, genus and species, date collected, country and other geographic data.

Users with the necessary system requirements may also access the DAMSL database through its interactive, Google Earth plug-in feature. Regions throughout the globe where Wang captured his stunning photographs are highlighted for users to click and explore, bringing them ultimately to Wang’s photographs of marine life taken in specific regions. Again, thumbnail photographs will result, complete with encyclopedic information on the marine life depicted.

The DAMSL database and Google Earth plug-in are intended to serve as free, educational tools for students and educators of all levels, divers and snorkelers, and other members of the community interested in marine life and geography. Prior to the web launch, the Rosenstiel School invited local high school students and teachers to test the DAMSL applications. The students found Wang’s photos to be a refreshing, new method for studying marine life and a drastic improvement from learning though traditional textbooks. In addition, they were thrilled to discover new creatures in regions they had not and may never travel to. The teachers valued the exciting and visual links to geography and viewed DAMSL as a wonderful vehicle to teach the subject of geography, a typically dry subject.

DAMSL will be a work in progress during the early stages of its online launch. In time, Wang’s photographs within the DAMSL database will be available for purchase and use through an online image bank. Proceeds from the image bank will fund the maintenance and software updates needed to sustain DAMSL as a free, educational resource. All images within DAMSL are the property of the University of Miami and may not be used without permission. For more information, please contact Myron Wang at mailto:mlw0818@yahoo.com.

Yellowtail coris

Scientific Name: C. gaimar
Common Name: Yellowtail Coris
Date Collected: May 1995
Where: Pacific Ocean
Locality: Mary Islands (Mborokua)
Country: Solomon Islands
Kingdom: Animali
Class: Actinopterygi
Family: Labrida
Genus: Coris
Species: gaimard