SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 15, August 2016 - Page 83

found in citizen science initiatives, i.e. scientific projects that to a variable extent rely on observations and data provided by non-specialist volunteers - in this case SCUBA divers. Divers can pick from a variety of citizen science initiatives, differing for overall scope, geographical or temporal extension, protocol, user interface etc. In some cases divers specifically dive to gather data while in other cases observations may be recorded if a given species is spotted during a normal dive. Also, volunteer divers may be asked to measure organisms’ sizes or extensions, take pictures or just record data such as quantity and distribution on a wet note. Engaging divers in citizen science is an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness about the marine environment, its life and the drivers of change that may affect them. Further, it is a powerful way to build a sense of ownership both in returning divers and in local operators. Taken to the next level, successful citizen science initiatives bring together often conflicting actors, such as managers, scientists and operators, for the sake of the same cause.

Green Bubbles has mapped about seventy citizen science projects involving volunteer divers. Initiatives focused on the Mediterranean Sea have collected thousands of observations throughout the basin and over a period spanning more than a decade. This wealth of data has been used to monitor the spread of non-indigenous species, the recovery of species and habitats after mass mortality events, map and characterise data-poor areas and inform decision making. No single scientific team could have ever undertaken such a massive work alone. Together, sustainable divers can.

Green Bubbles has teamed up with Green Fins; an initiative working with governments to foster environmental stewardship within the diving industry through promotion of, and assessing business performance against, an environmental code of best practice. Over the coming years these two initiatives will be sharing findings and approaches to pool resources and amplify results. So keep an eye out for developments and don’t forget to ask your dive operators what they are doing to enhance the sustainability of their business practices.

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MANDATORY ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND DISCLAIMER

The Green Bubbles RISE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 643712. This document reflects only the authors’ view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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