As recreational diving has been around since the 1940s, scuba diving is in constant evolution. Technology and globalization have made it easier for scuba divers to refine their interests in the underwater world, and to do so more safely than ever before. However, the evolution of scuba diving does not necessarily mean a growth in the number of divers.
What it does mean is that existing scuba divers are merging science and tourism. We break down peer-reviewed research on the science behind marine citizen science.
Evidence From the Green Bubbles Project
From Serena Lucrezi, a Senior Lecturer working at TREES (Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society) at the North-West University in South Africa. Her research focuses on marine and coastal tourism, especially scuba diving, with attention towards creating new ways to engage and educate tourists on conservation.
Over the course of four years, Serena has been one of the head researchers for the Green Bubbles project, her work is one of the findings from this EU-Funded project.
She was an organizer of the First International Scuba Diving Sustainability Workshop, featuring Blue Ocean Network, DAN Europe, Reef World Foundation, Reef Check International, among many other presenters on the cutting edge of the scuba diving industry. In her time with Green Bubbles, she has been part of a team training dive operators to deliver ocean literacy briefs.
Is Marine Citizen Science What Scuba Divers Seek?
What is marine citizen science? Imagine exploring the ocean with leading scientists and their cutting edge technology. Elite technical divers explore deep wrecks in Malta with the aid of sophisticated equipment. Macro-photographers find the perfect shot and post-production techniques from a workshop in the Philippines.
You learn about the biology and ecology of the underwater world. You also gain an awesome outdoor adventure and skills. These are examples of marine citizen science. (Credit – C. Flannery)
The Science Behind Marine Citizen Science
While involved with Green Bubbles, Serena conducted her own research around the motivations of potential citizen scientists in marine tourism. She was looking to find proof that citizen science can fill an emerging gap in the scuba dive market. She produced a peer-reviewed paper (published in PLOS ONE) that proves just that.
In Malta and Portofino, Italy, scuba divers are known to have high levels of accumulated experience. The geography of these regions also create conditions conducive to deep diving, technical diving and wreck diving, which all require special skills or equipment from participants. These two destinations were the perfect location to find experienced, invested divers. They set the scene for Serena’s project.
The Results of Sustainable Scuba Diving Research
In the study, a total of 168 scuba divers were interviewed to assess their profile, interest and participation in marine citizen science. (Credit – S. Lucrezi)
The results of the study show that:
-There is a clear relationship between scuba diver specialization and participation or interest in citizen science.
-Scuba divers seek citizen science experiences in the fields of the environmental science and safety science.
This proves that it makes financial sense to enter the conservation+recreation, marine ecotourism, responsible tourism, sustainable diving, sustainable tourism sectors.
By: Serena Lucrezi; Editor: Caitlin Flannery
The second question Serena asked herself in this study? How can we help dive operators make this transition from recreation to citizen science? There is peer-reviewed market research ESSENTIAL for any sustainable diving operator or aspiring #oceanchangemaker in the follow-up to this article next week.
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