Citizen Science

Citizen Science is often the tether that ties researchers and the general public along a common nerdy path. Memebers of ATMEC have, over the years, participated in and spearheaded their own successful citizen science projects throughout the Indo-Pacific. We are proud to be continuing that tradition by incoporating a strong community outreach and educational component in our research by working alongside folks interested in taking another step towards marine biology. Below are some of our main citizen science projects that you can get involved in! To find out more about what Citizen Science is, check out this article here! Want to participate, get in touch with us either by contacting us or messaging us on Facebook!

Tao Talay Aow Thai - เต่าทะเลอ่าวไทย (TTAT) is the latest iteration of the sea turtle project which aims to document and monitor sea turtle populations throughout the Gulf of Thailand. The project began in early 2015 at Koh Tao, and has since amassed over 1200 observations of over 150 turtles across 10 years and 5 provinces. Observations and identifications typically require clear photo or video evidence of a turtle’s head, the patterns of which can be used to identify individuals. In addition, information regarding date and location of sighting are crucial. While certain areas are well represented, sea turtles from other regions (i.e. Chanthaburi, Chumphon, Trat etc) remain largely unknown. Despite its history, TTAT (and its sibling Koh Tao Turtles) are entirely voluntarily run and thus, data collection in most areas remain in their infancy. The primary means of data collection are through Facebook and email submissions, with some use of Instagram and other similar portals. To learn more about citizen science, sea tutle biology and conservation at Rayong, check out our People and the Sea course!

MARsCI, or the Marine science Citizens Initiative, aims to act as a bridge between the marine recreational community and academics in Thailand studying the growing issue of derelict and discarded fishing gear (DFG) in marine ecosystems. This project, co-created and administered by ATMEC, IUCN Asia and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, involves theoretical, practical and academic components, utilising citizen science to document cases of DFG. The theoretical component involves training volunteer SCUBA divers in the MARsCI data collection protocol, including recognising marine animals and habitats affected by DFG, and the steps necessary document these impacts. Following this, trained divers are encouraged to carry out seafloor surveys and report observations and data to us directly and to our public Facebook group. Finally, these data are analysed and reported to the public and via academic outputs, to help inform managers and policy makers on ways in the which the problems can be addressed. This protocol has been successfully piloted and utilised since 2020 and we’re looking to expand our data collection further! To find out more, click the logo or here!

The Facebook page ‘Sea Slug Thailand’ was created and is administered by a group of enthusiastic divers from various backgrounds and remains one of the most popular marine wildlife pages from Thailand. Divers and snorkellers throughout the country submit photos of these charismatic critters and thus contribute to one of the fastest growing biodiversity databases in Thailand. In collaboration with ATMEC, Sea Slug Thailand has begun the process of cataloguing and analysing the diversity and distribution of these remarkable marine animals in Thailand. The collaboration aims to provide insights into ecosystem variability across Thai waters and has curated over 5000 observations. This includes dozens of previously undescribed species requiring further investigation, pushing the boundaries of marine biology discovery in the region. To learn more about sea slug biology and ecology around the waters of Thailand, sign up for our Benthic Ecology course!

Project Seahorse is a remarkable organisation that aims to facilitate conservation and research on seahorse populations around the world. The ATMEC team are proud to be continuing the positive and productive relationship with Project Seahorse that was setup in the Gulf of Thailand with Conservation Diver, by collecting and providing data to their citizen science portal Via our own research efforts and through teaching the seahorse monitoring course by Conservation Diver, we have already found a thriving seahorse population around the waters of the Mun Nai Archipelago. We also encourage the public regardless of background, to please submit photo records of wild seahorses to the project. For those keen on learning more about seahorse biology and monitoring around Rayong, contact us to book a place on our course or check out our more comprehensive Benthic Ecology course!