Volunteer Citizen-Scientists Give a Boost to Sea Horse Research

Volunteer Citizen-Scientists Give a Boost to Sea Horse Research

According to a study, members of the public are contributing to research on sea horses, the small fish that are commonly found in coral reefs, shallow waters, and estuaries worldwide. Researchers found that public contributions to the iSeahorse science project between 2013 and 2022 have helped advance scientific knowledge in this field. Citizen science efforts have provided new information on 10 of the 17 sea horse species with previously lacking data and have improved understanding of the geographic distribution of nine species. Some observations even helped researchers learn more about sea horse breeding habits.

The iSeahorse project was founded in 2013, inviting the public to report sea horse sightings and behaviors. The project has received approximately 11,000 observations from over 1,900 contributors, leading to the validation of 7,794 observations of 35 different sea horse species from 96 countries. Volunteer observers have identified rare species that may have been missed by traditional monitoring methods.

Heather Koldewey, co-founder of the iSeahorse project and lead of the Bertarelli Foundation’s marine science program, emphasized the importance of community science in studying cryptic species like sea horses. The recent study highlights the value of involving the public in scientific research to raise awareness and work towards conservation goals.

To participate in the iSeahorse project and contribute to sea horse research, visit https://projectseahorse.org/iseahorse/.

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