Citizen Sciences

Nausicaa has decided to support the theme chosen for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development instigated by the General Assembly of the United Nations by showing how everybody can make a contribution to this type of tourism through the choices they make as consumers and through their choice of leisure activities. Citizen sciences can be one example of this.

Citizen sciences are research programmes that involve everybody, whether or not they have knowledge of the corresponding area of study. Their involvement can be active (e.g. observation of animals or plants) or passive (e.g. making available the computational capacities of a personal computer or smartphone). Input from citizens provides huge quantities of data that researchers would not have been able to gather on their own, over vast geographical areas and over an extensive period of time.

The first citizen science projects appeared at the beginning of last century in North America, in the field of ornithology, but they are developing exponentially thanks to the increasingly widespread access to new technologies (computers, tablets, smartphones etc.).

Below you will find a few examples of sea-related citizen science programmes suggested by Nausicaa.

Opal Coast – "Nausicaa's Citizen Science" blog

Nausicaa's Citizen Science blog – Screenshot of home page Whether you’re an enlightened amateur, an observant walker, a nature lover, a would-be botanist or a naturalist, did you know that you can participate in scientific projects by sharing your observations in the field?
There are numerous projects involving research professionals and amateurs that are looking for enthusiasts to advance certain areas of scientific work.

VYour observations are both valuable and interesting for scientists. Taking part in operations such as the observation of marine mammals, the gathering of skate egg cases or the observation of algae and winkles is a good way of finding out more about the populations of seals that live along our coasts, discovering which species of skate are the commonest on our shores or helping to understand the impact of climate change on brown algae.

So, go to it! The next time you take a walk along the beach, keep your eyes peeled, take photos, note down what you see, gather items of interest and share your discoveries!

France - BioLit

Part "citizen science" and part "citizens’ coastal observatory", BioLit is a citizen science programme focusing on coastal biodiversity. Set up and managed by the Planète Mer association, it is run under the scientific responsibility of the marine research station at the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN, national natural history museum) in Dinard, with the support of a scientific committee. It operates in partnership with bodies that provide education in environmental issues and sustainable development, local and regional authorities, government bodies and management agencies for protected areas and natural resources.  

In response to certain problems that can arise in relation to coastal biodiversity, the programme is subdivided into various "Actions" open to all. 

  • Actions to highlight the colours of coastal biodiversity: Through the "Keep your eyes open!" action, you can help to survey the biodiversity of sandy and rocky coastlines.   
  • Actions to create a coastal alert and surveillance network:  
    • "Seasons of the Sea" focuses on the items left by the sea at the high or low water mark depending on tides and storms...
    • The "New arrivals" action contributes to an alert and surveillance network specialising in introduced marine and coastal species, some of which can be invasive.
    • "Coastal vegetation" monitors plants of particular interest listed by the Conservatoire Botanique de Porquerolles.  
    • "Look out! Threat?" targets everything that is not alive! That includes plastic waste, cigarette butts, certain leisure activities (quad bikes, scooters etc.) or manmade features (concreting of certain places, moorings etc.) that disturb or degrade life on the coast.
  • Actions in response to scientific studies:  
    • "Brown algae and winkles" was set up when it was noticed that brown algae were disappearing from rocky shorelines. Observation of both algae and shellfish will improve our understanding of the factors behind the disappearance and its effects on the ecosystem of foreshores.

France - APECS

Skate eggs casesAPECS (Association pour l'Etude et la Conservation des Sélaciens) is a not-for-profit association that was set up in Brest in July 1997 to expand the research activities launched in 1995 by a group of marine biology students from the University of Brest who were interested in basking sharks. The field of investigation was later extended to include all sharks, skates and rays (previously called Selachii and now known as Elasmobranchii).

APECS’ CapOeRa programme ("Capsules d'Oeufs de Raies" or skate egg cases) involves the general public. People gather the skate egg cases that have washed up on the shore as a way of defining the distribution of the various species and improving knowledge about their breeding patterns. There is an egg case collection point at the entrance to Nausicaa.

APECS also asks professional seafarers, amateur yachtsmen, divers or simply people out for a walk to pass on information if they see basking sharks or any other species of shark or ray, through the Allo Elasmo programme. Professional fishermen in the Atlantic or the English Channel can also tell the association if they catch tagged skate or rays.


Requin pélerin (Cetorhinus maximus)When MBSW was started in 2004, little was known about the basking sharks seen in Manx waters. MBSW is a not for profit company. Its volunteers collaborate with scientists to produce the most valuable scientific information possible. Collected data help to make sensible, informed wildlife planning conservation decisions.

You too can participate in data collection if you observe a basking shark around the Isle of Man!

United Kingdom - SHARK TRUST

Requin gris (Carcharhinus plumbeus) à NausicaaThe Shark Trust was established in 1997 to be a voice for UK sharks and rays. It works to manage and protect shark and rays in British waters and with a collation of international partners. Within this scope, it proposes projects encouraging the general public to get involved and to collect data to support shark research and conservation.

The Shark Trust has launched the Great Eggcase Hunt where you can contribute by organising the event and reporting your findings. This programme was an inspiration for the French APECS CapOeRa programme (see above). The Shark Trust also invites you to share your experiences with sharks, as well as your pictures.


Raie manta (Manta alfredi)

The Manta Trust takes a multidisciplinary approach to the worldwide conservation of manta rays and their habitat through robust science and research, while raising awareness and providing education to the general public and community stakeholders alike.
Within this scope, it proposes a programme called IDtheManta, which invites you to submit your images and obervations of manta rays. By doing so, you will contribute directly to the global research and conservation of manta rays .



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