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Coastal walkabout: Citizen science in coastal, marine and estuarine environments

Bejder, L. (2014) Coastal walkabout: Citizen science in coastal, marine and estuarine environments. In: 3rd International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas, 9 - 11 November, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

Abstract

Traditional biological science has its limitations. Sampling can often be hindered by financial constraints, making it inadequate in terms of sample size, frequency of sampling and the geographic scale at which samples are collected.

At the same time, technology has made citizen science easier, instantaneous and more accurate. Smart phones are now almost ubiquitous and incorporate a global positioning system, high resolution camera and wireless radio for transmitting data.

Coastal Walkabout is an open-access citizen science initiative which utilizes smartphone technology to engage local communities to gather scientific observations within the coastal, estuarine and near-shore environments. It can provide both generic and project-specific smartphone apps for data collection for effort-based or incidental sightings. There are social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and a website (www.coastalwalkabout. org) for uploading open access data. Since December 2013 there have been more than 4,000 sightings of 91 species including an opportunistic southernmost sighting of the newly described Australian humpback dolphin.

A case study of dolphins in the Swan-Canning river system compared a transect-based traditional science data set with a citizen science data set. Between March and August 2014, the traditional science team completed 67 hours of survey time (259 dolphins sighted) and the citizen scientists 1342 hours (1150 dolphins sighted). The conclusions from the case study were that citizen science can provide useful data for important marine mammal areas but it requires repeated and continuous training and high levels of engagement. Citizen science has the additional benefit of providing community education, mitigation of environmental hazards such as monofilament fishing line entanglements and monitoring for general compliance.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/37255
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