Citizen science, also known as crowd-sourced science, is quickly gaining popularity and recognition. Simply put, citizen science harnesses observations and input from nonprofessional scientists to maximize the spatial, temporal and numeric scales of a research project.
The OpenScientist website offers this definition of citizen science:
“The systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis”.
Due to the vastness of the oceans, accurate data sets on marine wildlife (including marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, fish) are hard to achieve as the constraints on researcher’s time, availability and funding restricts them to conducting limited observations to particular regions. There are many non-scientists from the community who are active in marine environments, such as fishers, tourists, divers, resource sector employees, local residents and community groups. Citizen science provides a great opportunity for the general public to contribute to knowledge about their marine environments.
Murdoch University Cetacean Unit, in collaboration with Duke University and Marine Venture Foundations, are actively developing tools (smartphone “apps”) and citizen science projects (Coastal Walkabout) to help inform about the coastal, marine and estuarine environments.