Do you want to do something to help the ocean and its marine life? Perhaps even be a part of a scientific discovery that changes the world for the better? Become a citizen scientist and you can play a role in protecting the ocean. You don’t need any previous experience or even qualifications. You just need a passion for the ocean and a curious mind.
What is citizen science?
Citizen science uses people power to explore, collect and review information on ocean and coastal habitats and the animals that live there. It involves non-scientists taking part in data analysis and collection in order to break down tasks that would take one person years to complete. Think of it as the scientific community crowdsourcing helpers in order for them to complete their research. Research which could lead to any number of breakthroughs in ocean conservation. After all, the more we know about the ocean, the more we are able to protect it.
How is citizen science helping the ocean?
The ocean has more threats now than ever before – over-fishing, plastic pollution and ocean acidification to name just a few. These problems are huge and way too big for one person to solve on their own. Even if a marine scientist could envisage a solution to one of these problems, gathering enough data to provide evidence would be impossible for one person.
But what if that person had an army of a thousand people, or even a million? Think what could be achieved. The greater amount of data collected, the better it is for analysis and evidencing solutions.
It’s clear that citizen science is vitally important. Thankfully, more and more people are getting involved and contributing to our collective knowledge about the underwater world. The increase in technology and social media means that anyone with a computer, or smart phone can photo, record, share and contribute to ocean science. Whale and dolphin migrations, seabird nesting habits, the abundance of sharks or seagrass meadows… the data collected by volunteer citizen scientists is used by marine scientists to create new understandings of marine life behaviour and how they are adapting to these new threats.
Discover a citizen science project today
Most projects require no specialist knowledge or skills in order to take part. Everything you need to know is explained when you sign up. There are two main types of citizen science project:
1) Marine life sightings – Observe the world, record what you see and submit the data. There are lots of marine life surveys to join in with that are perfect for little sea fans to get involved too.
2) Data analysis – Going through pre-existing data, such as photographs, and logging what you find. Some projects are even devised as games that you can play from home. Dip into a project online as and when you want, for as little or as long, as you fancy.
Whatever type of project you get involved in, you’ll learn a lot about marine life for free. You may even make a significant contribution to protecting our blue planet.
Where can I find a citizen science project?
There are many non-profit organisations that need help with ongoing projects. Visit their website and see if they need help with anything.
If you know of a cool marine-related citizen science project, then share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it and spread the word.
Have you thought about joining a volunteer project and contributing to ocean science that way? From protecting seahorses to tracking whale sharks, there are projects all over the world who rely on citizen scientists to join in and make a difference.