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Today, 8 June 2020 is
World Oceans Day
. This United Nations Initiative is celebrated annually. Why is it important to highlight the plight of the oceans you may ask. In the words of the UN:
"When we think of public health risks, we may not think of the ocean. Increasingly, however, the health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. Some may be surprised to read that organisms discovered at extreme depths are used to speed up the detection of COVID-19, and probably even more to learn that, it is the environment that could give a solution to humankind.
This is one of the multiple reasons why we should celebrate World Oceans Day: to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe. The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. They are a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. In the end, it is a day to celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean."
The UN World Oceans Day celebration this year will take place as a virtual event
produced in partnership with Oceanic Global.
This year's theme is
Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.
In order to innovate, we need to find out what the current status is. Scientists are continually collecting data and doing research for innovation. They however need help! - We as ordinary citizens can do this by taking part in a Citizen Science Project.
In acknowledgement of World Oceans Day and the important contribution that citizens can make, Chrysalis is highlighting Citizen Science
In this post we:
Explain what Citizen Science is
Show you how you can become involved
Highlight a few Ocean Citizen Science Projects in South Africa
What is citizen science?
The collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.
You don’t need to be an expert in a subject to become a Citizen Scientist
and make a meaningful contribution to scientific research in a wide variety of topics in the natural environment. The “citizen science” movement is gathering momentum, as scientists, policymakers, and the public themselves recognize that everyday people can make meaningful contributions to research.
Why become a Citizen Scientist?
Ismail Ebrahim of Custodians of Rate and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) says “Citizen science has played a significant role in collecting biodiversity data in South Africa”
And goes on to add “There are many examples of successful programmes that have generated impressive biodiversity datasets and contributed to distribution mapping, understanding population trends and conservation prioritization. Projects like the Bird Atlas, Protea Atlas, Southern African Reptiles and Amphibians (SARCA), Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) Programme, etc have demonstrated the value of citizen scientists to the conservation of our natural heritage. Advances in technology also provide new opportunities to connect and share observations and have made it possible to engage a wider community for more varied projects. These technologies and citizen science projects have engaged members of the public in innovative ways and provided many opportunities for informal education”.
Record your observations
Share with fellow naturalists
Connect with Nature!
One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
That's the vision behind iNaturalist. So if you like recording your findings from the outdoors, or if you just like learning about life, join us!
A Little History
iNaturalist.org began as the Master's final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda at UC Berkeley's School of Information in 2008. Nate and Ken-ichi continued working on the site after graduation, with some additional help from Sean McGregor. Ken-ichi began collaborating with Scott Loarie in 2011, when they organized as iNaturalist, LLC and began expanding the site through numerous collaborations. In 2014 iNaturalist became an initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and a joint initiative with National Geographic Society in 2017.
Contribute to Science
We have researched and selected 5 local Citizen Science projects linked to the marine environment.
Safety comes first!! - Remember to follow all COVID-19 lockdown protocols before venturing out!
SeaKeys, Citizen Science Project – The SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) marine programme along with WWF is currently running various marine atlasing projects. Through SeaKeys, they are attempting to map the distribution of coral, nudibranch (sea slugs) and fish species in the ocean around South Africa. This is a citizen science initiative Participation in SeaKeys is through the online platform iSpot where users can upload photographs of marine species along with information on where the photograph was taken.
In the past, the Two Oceans Aquarium has supported International Coastal Cleanup Day, taking place in September each year. Trash Bash is a campaign by the Two Oceans Aquarium, expanding on their previous cleanup commitments. With your support, they hope to grow the attendance of these cleanups and to entrench them as part of Cape Town’s culture.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and lockdown restrictions, Two Oceans aquarium have initiated a virtual trash bash.
This citizen science initiative was established in December 2013. The purpose of the project is for government officials, scientists and the general public (citizen scientists) to join forces, and work together to increase our knowledge and understanding of sea turtles on the east coast of South Africa.
The initiative encourages all divers to be marine citizen scientists by collecting information about turtles when they dive, and submitting the information, including pictures and observations, via an online data sheet.
This information will help scientists determine where different kinds of turtles like to do different things, and how the turtles interact with each other and the environment. Government officials and managers can then use this information to help with the on-going protection and conservation of sea turtles in South Africa.
The Virtual Museum (VM) provides the platform for citizen scientists to contribute to biodiversity projects. This innovative concept was developed by the Animal Demography Unit. For many people, a “museum” is a place to see stuffed animals on display. But the ADU’s Virtual Museum is not like this. The scientific part of a museum contains collections of specimens, frequently large numbers of specimens of the same species from different parts of the range, all carefully preserved and labelled with the date and place where they were collected. The ADU’s Virtual Museum is like this, except that instead of specimens in draws or bottles, we have digital photographs arranged in a database.
Members of the public are encouraged to submit digital photographs for the Virtual Museums, along with certain basic information. Species identifications can be made by the observers, and are confirmed by a panel of experts. Distribution maps for each species are available online and serve as conservation and education tools. These maps include Virtual Museum records and sometimes also other distributional records which are contained within the ADU’s databases.