Citizen science on an expedition cruise involves engaging passengers in scientific research and data collection while they travel to remote and ecologically significant locations. It allows everyday individuals, or “citizen scientists,” to contribute to meaningful research projects and environmental monitoring efforts under the guidance of onboard experts and researchers. This collaborative approach combines tourism with scientific exploration, enabling travelers to actively participate in data collection and contribute to our understanding of various ecosystems.
On an expedition cruise, citizen science activities might include:
- Wildlife Observation and Identification: Passengers can help record observations of wildlife species encountered during the cruise, including birds, marine mammals, and other animals. This information contributes to ongoing research on population dynamics and distribution.
- Seabird Surveys: Travelers may assist in recording data about seabird populations, nesting behaviors, and feeding habits. Seabirds are important indicators of marine ecosystem health.
- Water Sampling and Analysis: Passengers can help collect water samples at designated locations to measure parameters such as temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels. These data contribute to studies on oceanography and climate change.
- Plankton Collection: Participants may assist in collecting plankton samples from the water, which can provide insights into the marine food web and ecosystem health.
- Invasive Species Monitoring: Citizen scientists can help monitor and report any invasive species they come across during shore landings or while exploring the coastline.
- Photography and Documentation: Travelers can capture photos and videos of landscapes, wildlife, and environmental changes, which can be valuable for research and education.
- Data Entry and Analysis: Passengers may be involved in entering collected data into databases, helping to organize and analyze the information for scientific purposes.
- Educational Activities: In addition to data collection, onboard experts may conduct educational workshops and lectures to help participants understand the importance of the research and its implications for conservation.
Citizen science on expedition cruises offers several benefits. It increases public awareness about environmental issues, fosters a sense of stewardship and connection to nature, and provides researchers with access to data from remote and hard-to-reach areas. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the ecosystems they visit and contribute to ongoing scientific efforts.
It’s important to note that the quality of data collected through citizen science programs is often validated and integrated with other research efforts. Expedition cruise operators collaborate with scientists and institutions to design meaningful projects and ensure that data collection protocols are followed accurately. Before embarking on an expedition cruise with a citizen science component, it’s a good idea to research the cruise operator and the specific projects they offer to ensure that the program aligns with your interests and values.