Project Friends of the Sea
SUMMARY OF THE PROJECT
Catalan society has reached a decisive point in the protection and defence of animal rights. Citizen initiatives have achieved some important goals such as the prohibition of use of animals in circus performances, the prohibition of bullfighting shows or the prohibition of shows with dolphins in the Zoo of Barcelona. Currently, and due to the action of the international platform ZOOXXI a new model has been proposed for the Barcelona Zoo.
As an organization that works towards the study and conservation of cetaceans, we have perceived an increasing interest in wild animals, especially in the observation of wild cetaceans, by the general public. With our study “Photo-Identification Project: Whales and dolphins along the Catalan coast”, which remains active at this moment, we have been able to raise awareness among an increasing number of people and to obtain valuable data about these marine mammals of the central Catalan coast.
We now want to go one step forward towards raising awareness among the general public, especially those who regularly or sporadically visit the Mediterranean Sea and we would like to involve them in the conservation of its fauna. It is towards this end that the citizen science project FRIENDS OF THE SEA is born.
In recent years, the voluntary involvement of members of the public in collecting data about cetacean sightings, has been proven to be rewarding and beneficial for both society and scientific entities at all levels. Therefore, we consider that it’s of crucial importance to give the chance to the people that work or develop their activities of leisure at sea to be involved in our activities. We believe that this project will contribute to raise awareness about the importance to protect the marine environment and, at the same time, to increase the available information about the distribution of the different species of cetaceans that can be seen in the Catalan coast, being an important supplementary source of information for the Photo-Identification Project.
- We would like to offer a platform, in which people that sporadically or regularly visit the Mediterranean Sea can report and inform about the species of marine animals that they see during their trips.
- We also want to use this project to inform about the correct behaviour and sailing manoeuvres during cetacean sightings with the ultimate goal to enjoy the experience of seeing these animals in the wild in a non-invasive way and causing no disturbance to the animals.
- The main aim is to share and promote the biological treasure hidden in the Mediterranean Sea and that many people are still unaware of.
The data that will be included in the project, and that will be of our interest, will be all these data collected off the Catalan coast.
Since we would like this project to be a learning tool, but at the same time a tool to share cetacean observations made by the general public during their boat trips, we prioritised the ease of use. We offer different types of collaboration. The first one is a web form with which it will be possible to share information about any sighting. The second one is the development of a mobile app, which we are currently developing and that we will share soon.
Both the web form and the mobile app will allow users to access:
- Information: In this section, users will find fact sheets about the different cetacean species that live tin the Mediterranean Sea. These could be useful to identify the observed species in those cases in which the user may have difficulties to do so, due to lack of experience or lack of knowledge.
- Data entry: Here the users will be able to share the information about the species, the location, the number of individuals of a specific sighting by filling the different fields of the web form. This will also include the option to send us picture(s) or video(s), which will help us to identify the observed species.
HOW CAN YOU COLLABORATE?
It is easy to collaborate and get involved in this project. To do so, you only need to send us some information and data about your sightings using one of the following options:
- Web form: You can send us data about your sightings through our website.
- Mobile App: We are working to develop a mobile app that will allow us to receive the of your sightings.
One of our main aims as an association is to raise awareness about the importance of the study of these species in order to achieve effective conservation measures. We consider that a good way to reach this aim is by sharing the information and knowledge we have acquired and thus we have always shared the data obtained during our studies through our website, through social media or through the publication of technical reports.
Accordingly, the information and data collected from your contributions will be accessible through our website and will be included in our annual technical reports.
SPECIES OF INTEREST
Initially, the project is focused exclusively on cetacean species that live in the Mediterranean Sea. We do not rule out that we could include other species of marine vertebrates such as sea turtles or sun fish in the future. The species we will start to collect data on are: