Participants went for a snorkel tour in Cala Lledó in the Sa Dragonera Natural Park. | Save the Med foundation

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To celebrate World Environment Day, (June 5th) and bring scientific knowledge closer to citizens, a marine citizen science workshop was held on Saturday in Sa Dragonera within the framework of ‘the Week of Territorial Custody in the Balearic Islands’ promoted by Iniciativa de Custòdia del Territori de les Illes Balears (ICTIB). The activity was co-organized by the Consell Insular de Mallorca, Observadores del Mar and Xarxa Dragonera Blava, and counted the support of the Environmental Department of the Government of the Balearic Islands, MARE, Marilles Foundation and Save the Med.

After a theoretical presentation about citizen science and marine species of interest to scientists, the participants went for a snorkel tour in Cala Lledó in the Sa Dragonera Natural Park. During the snorkel excursion they searched for marine species which are relevant to ongoing scientific projects, in order to take photos of them and upload the images to Observadores del Mar’s citizen science platform and thus, collect useful data for research. The cameras were provided by MARE, the Audiovisual Contest for the Conservation of the Balearic Sea.

Citizen science is an opportunity for non-scientists to contribute to research. In this case, research about the marine environment of a protected area. These types of activities connect citizens with a branch of science and allow data to be generated jointly with research teams.

Everyone can take part. People who are not professionals in the scientific field, people of all backgrounds and ages can participate and contribute to new knowledge”, comments Sandra Espeja, coordinator of the Marine Citizen Science Programme in the Balearic Islands (Fundació Marilles/Observadores del Mar).

The return of biodiversity to Sa Dragonera

The Sa Dragonera area has several protection figures including a Marine Reserve of Fishing Interest. Since the Freu de Sa Dragonera Marine Reserve was established in 2016, there has been a considerable increase in the number and size of fish.

“We have in front of us a unique opportunity to be able to document the evolution of life within the marine reserve, but without support we will not be able to capture everything that is happening. That is why citizen science and these types of activities are key to being able to see and to show what the process of recovering the marine environment is like,” underlines Yaiza Santana, coordinator of Save the Med’s Know your AMP Sa Dragonera programme.

"It has been a very different experience, we were able to see and identify species that we did not know. The scientists from STM and Observadores de Mar opened our eyes to many endemic and invasive species. It was very interesting!", commented Mariona Luis Tomàs, participant of the day, at the end of the workshop.

The Xarxa Dragonera Blava is a project created in 2019, coordinated by Save the Med. It aims to promote participatory management of marine spaces, integrating all stakeholders and the local community.