Anyone can participate in turtle conservation research by taking a photo of a turtle (from at least 3 meters) with their smartphone, and by sharing this photo, one can become a citizen scientist as they've contributed important data to conservation research. Since the scales on each side of a sea turtle's head is unique like fingerprints of humans, photographs are very helpful in identifying the turtle to the individual level. By identifying individual turtles, researchers can use this data to survey and analyze trends, tracking the distribution and migration activities of sea turtle populations.
Thus, we believe everyone counts in the race to save sea turtles from extinction. This is why we train the public (ordinary citizens) in basic research data collection protocols to help with our photo identification research and light pollution research projects. Volunteers engage in citizen science work to support scientists from NOAA. Read more about the request for volunteer help in the local news. The beauty of nature is part of the island's allure but it is important to approach this opportunity with practicality. Volunteers do not touch wild sea turtles directly since keeping nature undisturbed is one of our priorities. To learn more about how citizen science is applied to sea turtle conservation, please review the publications below.
- Hanna (2021) Citizen-Sourced Sightings and Underwater Photography Reveal Novel Insights About Green Sea Turtle Distribution and Ecology in Southern California
- Santori (2021) Changes in participant behaviour and attitudes are associated with knowledge and skills gained by using a turtle conservation citizen science app
- Montagna (2017) Combining Citizen Science and Photo Identification to Monitor a Key Green Turtle Feeding Ground in the Southern Egyptian Red Sea
- Baumbach (2017) Animal Mapping Using a Citizen-Science Web-Based GIS in the Bay Islands, Honduras
- Afford (2017) Sea Turtles, Light Pollution, and Citizen Science: A Preliminary Report
- Raoult (2016) GoPros as an underwater photogrammetry tool for citizen science
- Williams (2015) Effectiveness of recreational divers for monitoring sea turtle populations