Did you know that you could be part of a marine research project? Yes, this might sound a bit weird because not many people see themselves as researcher, but here is the magic of citizen science, you just need your eyes, your mobile and little else.
Citizen science is a method to generate scientific knowledge with the support of amateur scientists, ordinary citizens like you and me. Engaging the public and improving our knowledge base are essential to design, promote and implement effective measures for the conservation of the marine environment.
Marine citizen science projects provide an excellent opportunity to raise public awareness while valuable information and data on the status of species and habitats; and the pressures they are subject too. The more eyes we have on the sea the better. But all this information needs to be scientifically validated if we want to make the most of it. Which is the way most citizen science projects work. At the end of the process there is a researcher reviewing and validating all observations.
At Marilles Foundation, we have reached the conclusion that in order to transform the Balearics into a world reference of marine conservation we need a strong citizen science programme that allow us to engage key sectors and fill key information gaps. From recreational and professional fishermen to hotel clients and boat users; we all have a role to play in this.
There is a growing interest and demand by the public to do something for the marine environment and this provides a favourable context for the establishment of an ambitious citizen science programme. In order to take this forward we have joined forces with Observadores del Mar - the marine citizen science platform coordinated by the CSIC - Higher Council for Scientific Research – which in the Balearics counts with the support of IMEDEA (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies) and other research institutions. Observadores del Mar has been running for many years now and it is the most established and experience platform of Marine Citizens science in Spain and probably across the Med.
The new marine citizen science program for the Balearics will give a new boost to existing citizen science projects (i.e. microplastic watchers, invasive species, etc) and at the same time will set into motion new initiatives working closely with research centres, public administrations and diversity of groups, such as the educational community, diving centres, yacht clubs, fishermen, tourism sector, NGOs and citizens in general.
The Observadores del Mar platform offers several projects which rely on citizens information. Since its creation in 2012, its impact has gone beyond engaging citizens in marine research and gathering valuable data. It has also helped create a dialogue between the science community with the rest of society. It has broken the walls of the “ivory tower”. Over the past years Observadores has grown exponentially, adding new projects, and offering new opportunities. More than 10,000 observations have been recorded while at the same time the scientific community involved in the platform has also grown, and right now there are more than 70 scientists from different national and international research centers involved in the platform. Are you someone who loves the sea and spends a lot of time on the coast, at sea or even better – underneath it? Then you are a potential Sea Observer and we count on you to help us improve the state of the Balearic Sea.