MyOSD - OSD Citizen Science

Why are marine Microbes so important?

The ocean is filled with microorganisms. Billions of years ago these tiny little creatures gave us the oxygen we breathe today by taking huge proportions of carbon dioxide out of the air, converting it to oxygen and as a result shaping the climate of the whole planet to its current state! They are essential to the health of our environment, and hence the survival of humankind. Yet, our knowledge of this hidden majority is only fragmentary. What is a relatively simple task for zoologists and botanists - identifying species and finding out what they do - is exceedingly complex for microbiologists who study life that is invisible to the human eye.

What is OSD?

The first Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) took place on the longest day in the northern hemisphere in 2014, during the summer solstice on June 21st. On this day more than 180 science teams all around the world took water samples from the ocean in order to identify the microbes in it. The outcome of this global effort will be nothing less than the biggest data set in marine research that has ever been taken on one single day. This vast open-access data set will be incredibly valuable for the marine scientists. The next OSD is planned for June 2015.

What is the OSD Citizen Science project (MyOSD)

We would like to engage the public to join our OSD Citizen Science campaign (MyOSD) by collecting important environmental data like latitude, longitude, temperature, wind speed and others. This data help the scientist to get a better understanding of the world’s oceans. It is important that many people contribute on the same day. With OSD we’ll get a huge snapshot of the world’s oceans (high spatial resolution) in a very narrow time window. It’s like taking a high-resolution picture with your camera, capturing all information in one snap. All environmental data will be publicly available and this huge data set will give marine research a major push.

What can YOU do? How can YOU join?

Become a Citizen Scientist and get out on a field trip all by yourself or with family and friends and collect environmental data for OSD. You can help scientist to unravel the mysteries of the marine microbial world with a few simple steps:

  • Get surface water with a bucket or container
  • Do the measurements of your choice (example are listed further down)
  • Enter the measured data in the Spartphone App or write them down
  • Upload your data and see all other data on the OSD mapserver

Who can join?

Anybody who is interested and has access to marine (or fresh) water can join MyOSD. Even if you are just in your garden or any other spot in the world you can send us your data, just be aware that the App was mainly build for the acquisition of marine data, so some field will not fit.

Getting started 

App installation and set up:

  • Download the OSD App for free in the Google Play Store or App Store, and check out the OSD Video tutorial for instructions.  You can also Search for "OSD citizen" App in the Google Play store or Apple App store.

  • After installation please open the App while you still have internet connection as the App itself needs to download basic settings before you can create a new sample. This is only necessary once; afterwards you don’t need a network connection to use the App as it stores all the data offline until you next get internet access.

  • Now click on the "Personal" button on the left corner - here it is mandatory to enter your first and last name. You can change this information as often as you like just do not forget to click the "Save" button at the bottom of the screen.

  • Please remember: your name (first and last name) will be publicly displayed on the OSD server website. If you do NOT want this please choose a nickname.

  • Download the OSD App User Guide (PDF, 270 kb)

  • When you have finished these steps you are ready to go!

Micro B3-IS user account and data upload:

For data upload you have to log in with your  Micro B3-IS user account or log in via your Google, Facebook or Twitter account. We recommend to generate your Micro B3-IS user account using your PC or Mac on the Micro B3-IS registration website.

More information about the App functionality and FAQ can be found here

Can I participate without a Smartphone?

Yes of course! Just write all your measurements down on paper. Later you can fill in an online form with your data and upload it to the OSD server.

What can I measure?

There are various environmental parameters, that you can measure: Air temperature, Water temperature, Wind speed, Salinity, Phosphate, Nitrate, Nitrite, pH and Secchi depth. You don't have to measure all of them, just choose which one you prefer. The only mandatory data you have to fill in to be able to upload the data is Time, Longitude, Latitude, Accuracy, Sampling depth and Sample name.

How can I measure these parameters?

Air temperature:

You can use a regular thermometer for this task or ask your weather app.

Water temperature:

Again you can use a regular thermometer, a dive computer or a clinical thermometer (usually only works with water around 30 degrees). If you are out on a (sailing) boat, check out if your boat or depth gauge has a built-in temperature sensor.

Check the water temperature


If you are on a sailing boat and have instruments to measure the true wind velocity otherwise you can also use your weather app.


You can measure the salinity with e.g. a Refractometer, a Hydrometer or a Salimeter which you might have at home if you have fish tanks.


Phosphate, Nitrate, Nitrite:

You can measure this parameter with the help of aquarist test kits for salt water which are available for just a couple of Euros/Dollars and can be used for around 50 tests. 

Test Kits


For pH measurement you need a pH meter and pH probe. Unfortunately, the pH paper tests are not suitable for salt water.

Secchi Disk:

A Secchi Disk is used to measure the water transparency in the ocean and to determine Phytoplankton abundance. It is a white disk with 30 cm in diameter connected to a rope and weighted from below. The disk is slowly lowered in the water to the point where it is no longer visible. Record this depth.

You can easily build a Secchi Disk yourself. If you google it, you can find multiple tutorials, however please note that some of them are for a black and white 20 cm Secchi Disk. For OSD, we would highly encourage you to use the 30 cm diameter disk in white color as this is often used in marine research.

How to make a Secci Disk:

  • The Secchi Disk can be plastic, metal or wood.

  • It is important that every Secchi Disk is a standard 30 cm in diameter and painted matt white

  • Attach the Secchi Disk to a long rope. For example 50 m in length

  • Mark the rope in 20 cm intervals

  • Attach a weight to your disk below using any ~200 g weight

How to make a Secci Disk

Here you can see two examples:

Secci Disk - Version 1        Secci Disk - Version 2   


Please state here the devices you used for your measurements e.g. which kind of thermometer or the name and brand of the kits you used for Phosphate/Nitrate/Nitrite measurement. But also please write about interesting things you observed during your sampling e.g. jellyfish bloom or big garbage accumulation.

A photo can say a more than thousand words:

Take a group picture during sampling or picture any other interesting observations. Photos are always appreciated!

Interesting observation Group picture

How to contact us and join the mailing list:

If you have any questions or want to sign up for the mailing list don’t hesitate to contact us via

Help us to spread the word:

Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook

The official Hashtag is #osd2015 and #oceansamplingday

Press material for MyOSD