Articles of interest
25th November 2022
Book in Focus
Advancing Public and Industry Participation in Coastal and Marine Sciences
Edited by Dr Michael Lück and Dr Brooke A. Porter
The aim of this book is to explore ways in which the public and industry may participate in coastal and marine sciences. Previous research demonstrates a general willingness to participate in the sciences and has shown that ‘citizen scientists’, as they may be called, can adequately fill in for trained scientists who often face temporal and monetary constraints. The concept of Citizen Science (CS) is well-established, of course, but our book has expanded its scope to include commercial tour operators and NGOs.
While the benefits of CS have been lauded in the past, its validity as an approach to science has also been questioned. The contributors to our book discuss the pertinent advantages and disadvantages of employing various forms of coastal and marine citizen science, all underpinned using case studies from around the globe. Throughout the book, it becomes clear that CS is not without its flaws, but also that it can (and indeed should) play an important role in the advancement of our scientific understanding of coastal and marine environments.
In Chapter 1, Michael Lück and Brooke Porter provide an introduction to the book and outline each chapter.
In Chapter 2, Blair Outhwaite and Karen Stockin recount using citizen science in the form of social media; more specifically, as a methodology to collect habitat use data for coastal delphinid species in the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand. Data regarding sightings were collected via two dedicated Facebook groups, both of which were cross-referenced against sightings made from a research vessel and a platform of opportunity (PoP). Citizen science was, therefore, able to alert additional delphinid sightings to the research vessel and PoP, the continued reporting of which indicated seasonal variation in habitat use for both species. However, species identification was a limitation within the citizen science dataset.
In Chapter 3, Stephanie Stack and Jens Currie note that the majority of the ocean environment is utilised by vessels not dedicated to specific research studies. They contend that these PoPs represent cost-effective means of data collection whilst also providing wide coverage over a protracted period and having the potential to be an important resource for scientific data collection. Data collections from PoPs present some biases, but they have been shown to be an important part of advancing our scientific knowledge in various fields of research. PoPs represent an underutilised resource that could play a crucial role in an era of limited funding by remedying the need for large-scale continuous monitoring.
In Chapter 4, Chantal Pagel explores the issue of wildlife harassment by examining human-shark interactions and conducting a small-sample analysis of qualitative data derived from Instagram to further discuss potential risks involved for wildlife and the digital audience of such content. The contemporary visual culture is significantly shaped by social media landscapes and particularly by platforms such as Instagram that utilise imagery that is often paired with captions, hashtags and comments to reach a broad digital audience. The way content featuring human-wildlife interactions is displayed on visual social media platforms, the authors argue, may influence users’ perceptions of nature and wildlife. Topical accounts with several thousands of followers frequently post images and videos that picture harassment of wildlife, yet this is not always cognisable to those who give their virtual ‘likes’.
In Chapter 5, Filippo Bargnesi, Carlo Cerrano and Serena Lucrezi assess scuba divers’ willingness to see sharks, to pay to see them and to act for shark conservation, all using mixed methods of research but with a focus on CS. Findings showed that while scuba divers tended to travel and spend money to see sharks, were aware of the global conservation status of sharks and the threats they face, and were also interested in becoming involved in CS and conservation programmes, real participation in a CS shark-related programme is often low. Results suggest that using professionals to link divers to scientists who can in turn introduce and guide them through educational and conservation-oriented experiences merits consideration by the diving industry.
In Chapter 6, Vikki Schaffer and Mark Orams provide insights into the opportunities and challenges of citizen and tourist scientist engagement in coastal research. The authors introduce the case study of CoastsnapQLD, focusing on the citizen scientist aspects of the project. Coastsnap seeks to enlist citizens to take photographic images of specific Australian beaches, including the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Photos taken by citizens are uploaded to social media sites and are then used to create a community beach monitoring database to assess beach erosion and recovery cycles over time. Analysis of the temporal data provides insights that help the local community and management agencies better understand and manage dynamic coastal areas.
In Chapter 7, Andreas Hansen introduces different citizen science uses in visitor management by examining Nordic coastal and marine contexts. Examples include established methods such as Visitor Employed Photography (VEP) and Public Participation GIS (PPGIS), as well as more explorative methods such as the use of smart phone apps and data drawn from online media services. Growing acknowledgement of the importance of gaining a more detailed understanding of the visitor – in particular their attitudes, opinions and experiences – has spawned an interest in alternative and more engaging monitoring approaches. This includes citizen science, which allows managers to work from the point of view of the visitors. New technological advances, which allow for tailored and effective citizen science methods to be applied, have been instrumental in these developments.
In Chapter 8, Serena Lucrezi, Filippo Bargnesi, Martina Milanese and Carlo Cerrano consider recreational divers as an essential resource for citizen science, especially in marine and environmental sciences. The skills of these divers and their disposition to preserve underwater habitats make them particularly suitable for participation in CS activities. The study presented in this chapter uses a mixed methods approach to collect data from recreational divers as well as the diving industry, which is evaluated to better understand the potential value of Scuba Diving Tourism (SDT) and the problems related to its sustainable development. Such value, however, can only materialise thanks to the implementation of a development plan based on scientific legitimacy as supported by adequate interactions, practices and contributions from various actors.
In Chapter 9, Claudio Aguayo and Moira Décima argue that much of the focus of citizen science initiatives has been put on the general public to serve researchers by contributing to observations, data collection and/or the provision of local knowledge to complement research projects. In the literature, however, there are few citizen science initiatives that prioritise the educational benefits of participating in citizen science projects. This focus on education, when implemented, supports social empowerment through the generation of scientific knowledge itself. Based on an underwater STEAM citizen science case study, Aguayo and Décima engage with the types of educational considerations that can be implemented when engaging primary students and their local community in the monitoring of salps (marine invertebrates). They argue that not only should citizen science initiatives have a stronger focus on educational considerations and outcomes for participants, but also that such an approach can benefit the generation of scientific knowledge itself.
In Chapter 10, Tracy Cooper provides an operator’s perspective on contributions to citizen science. Kaikōura is a small town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand (NZ), which has become a marine wildlife tourism hotspot in the country. Here, several tourism operators offer experiences to see marine mammals by boat, kayak, plane or helicopter. Cooper outlines how a local marine wildlife tour operator contributes significantly to science via their dolphin and pelagic bird watching tours. Her contribution supports the use of PoPs to collect quantitative data as an inexpensive way of providing valuable data that can be utilised to fill knowledge gaps, as well as providing a valuable tool for quantifying marine mammal and seabird distributions in the Kaikōura area and thus contributing towards the knowledge of highly mobile species.
"Lück and Porter present 16 chapters by 20 leading science practitioners regarding the perks and perils of incorporating public participation in empirical studies of coastal and marine wildlife. The book is both innovative and important, and makes a substantial contribution to highlighting the evolution of “citizen science” in advancing scientific inquiry in challenging environments, while also increasing agency and awareness with regard to public appreciation of, involvement in, and support for wildlife conservation."
Professor Paul Forestell
Long Island University, Brookville, N.Y., USA
"At the present moment, a quiet revolution is taking place in terms of how tourism researchers collect their data - the rise of citizen science. This innovative book provides a seminal exploration of this method. It explores its application in both scientific and social science contexts, and its use by businesses and tourists. In doing so, the book positions itself as essential reading for those wishing to engage with this method. A must read for both researchers and businesses wishing to engage in citizen science."
Associate Professor Anne Hardy
School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia
"Advancing Public and Industry Participation in Coastal and Marine Sciences is an important and timely contribution to the interdisciplinary field of citizen science. The editors, Michael Lück and Brooke A. Porter, have chosen an exceptional and creative group of researchers to remark on their experiences with citizen science.
"This volume will be of immediate value to scientists, to citizens who are motivated to make scientific contributions, and to students who are looking for a career (or personal) path that values curiosity, logical inquiry, and responsible environmental policy."
Professor Marc L. Miller
School of Marine & Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, USA
Citizen science (CS) can play a vital role in the management and guardianship of marine wildlife and coastal environments. This valuable collection provides insights and case studies that enhance our understanding and appreciation of CS in action. Highly recommended!
Professor Jeff Wilks
Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith University, Australia
Dr Michael Lück is a Professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. He is founding co-chair of the International Coastal and Marine Tourism Society. His research focuses on coastal and marine tourism, and he has published many peer-reviewed journal articles, (co-)edited 13 volumes on tourism, and co-authored the text Tourism (2nd edition, 2020).
Dr Brooke A. Porter works as instructional designer developing accessible content for multiple sectors related to development. She has worked in various capacities with NGOs, international aid agencies and educational institutions around the world. She has also published in a number of international journals and has recently edited two volumes on gender biases in fieldwork.
Advancing Public and Industry Participation in Coastal and Marine Sciences is available now in Hardback at a 25% discount. Enter code PROMO25 at checkout to redeem.