Although well studied in some scientific disciplines (e.g. neuroscience, aquaculture, animal physiology, ethology), the behavioural ecology and fisheries/conservation status of many cephalopods remains a mystery.
Compelling evidence suggests that cephalopods can suffer and feel pain. As a result, they are protected in some parts of the world in a scientific context but no guidance exists on wild animal welfare. Unlike marine mammals, marine fish, sharks, and crustaceans, cephalopods damage very easily and become exhausted when pursued by divers who are used to interacting with animals that have evolved for fast and or long periods of swimming. Furthermore, reports exist of local scale extinction of species once very common (e.g. The Common Cuttlefish Sepia officinalis in parts of North East Atlantic). Where important taxa reside, there are often few or no in situ studies, which require expensive SCUBA training, equipment hire, vast health & safety consideration, which make research expensive to conduct. Citizen science is becoming a more widely used tool to fill gaps where little funding exists.
For too long science, and the fruits of scientific inquiry, remain hidden from taxpayers who contribute to it financially via taxes. A major goal of this project is about making science a two-way process and we are working hard to bring what find back to the public through talks, exhibitions, and other outreach activities.
As of mid 2021, this project has 11 research-active collaborators across 15 countries on three continents. It has ~4000 members and >2000 scientific valuable observations.
Aims of the project
1) To collect data regarding wild cephalopods that would not otherwise be available
2) To make SCUBA divers aware of how best to interact with cephalopods
3) To engage with the citizen scientists in a number of meaningful ways, including art and education
What have we achieved so far?
In three and a half years we have created Facebook groups specifically for reporting observations of cephalopods
Groups now cover areas, in local languages, in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands & Belgium, France and Germany, Greece, Malta, UK, Cyprus, Ireland, Norway, Central America, SW Paciffic (USA), Croatia, Mexico and Japan
As of mid 2021, this project has 11 research-active collaborators across 15 countries on three continents. It has ~3500 members and >2000 scientific valuable observations.
We have papers published and have papers under review using citizen science data with further papers in the areas of behavioural ecology, habitat ecology and animal welfare are in preparation.
To help educate the public on cephalopods broadly, we wrote ID guides for specific regions (ongoing) which were translated into the relevant local languages
Guides included potential warning signals provided by cephalopods to help SCUBA divers avoid stressing them
Surveys were conducted after the talks to measure potential behavioural changes in the SCUBA divers
We have organised and hosted significant outreach events such as public speaking, workshops, photographic exhibitions, and a YouTube channel.