Professor Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist of Queensland says it all:
“The power of citizen science to remake or reimagine the world lies in the opportunities it gives to everyone involved – opportunities to learn about the world, to pose questions about how we affect the world and to consider how any change can make a difference.
Furthermore, being engaged in citizen science provides people with the confidence to speak out about matters they care about and to question policies or decisions with which they disagree.”
Professor Possingham is the wonderful Patron of the fantastic Australian Citizen Science Association – we are delighted to be long standing members and supporters!
A community, non-for-profit charity that supports, informs and develops Citizen Science, ACSA defines Citizen Science as the collection and analysis of scientific data in relation to the natural world, performed predominantly by citizens, usually in collaboration with scientists and field experts. Citizen scientists work with scientists or the scientific framework to achieve scientific goals.
Citizen Science involves public participation and collaboration in scientific research with the aim to increase scientific knowledge. It’s a great way to harness community skills and passion to fuel the capacity of science to answer our questions about the world and how it works.
Founded in May 2014 and incorporated in 2015, their mission is to advance Citizen Science through advocacy, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and capacity building. They are run by volunteers with only 1 – 2 paid part-time staff members and are always looking for collaborations and funding partners, welcoming everyone from all walks of life.
ACSA are currently developing a national community of practice for all types of Citizen Science within Australia and are very keen to hear from anyone about how to best support the needs of researchers, educators, project managers or citizen scientists.
Do join their mailing list to stay up to date with the latest citizen science developments, and events. To find projects near you head to their website and click on Resources then Project Finder.
Happy days being a Citizen Scientist …and thankyou ACSA!!
A huge THANKYOU to all our Citizen Scientists, operational partners, sponsors and supporters for 17 years of vital scientific data collection!
Kangaroo Island’s position as an extraordinary Environmental Science site was highlighted once again at the SA Young Tall Poppies Science Awards and Unsung Heroes Award, and the inaugural SA Citizen Science Awards.
Of the four finalists in the SA Citizen Science Outstanding Science and Research, and the Outstanding Engagement Awards, two had strong connections to the island and both were winners.
Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch won the Outstanding Engagement Award with Adelaide University’s iBandi as runner up. Adelaide University’s Echidna CSI of which Dr Peggy Rismiller of Pelican Lagoon Research Centre is a major part, won the Outstanding Science Award with Dr Tahlia Perry accepting the award on behalf of her team.
Once again KI’s potential as a leading research base, both on land and sea was obvious. In his acceptance speech which was well received by the audience including Governor Frances Adamson AC and Chief Scientist for SA Professor Caroline McMillen who presented the Citizen Science Awards, Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram emphasised the importance of the marine environment and the need for greater resourcing of research into our oceans and their flora and fauna. It was a point not lost on the few marine researchers in the room, making for interesting discussions to follow by leading scientific entities.
An invitation to attend the inspiring SA Science Awards at Tonsley Innovation Centre on 26th of November gave KI/VH Dolphin Watch’s Tony and Phyll Bartram the opportunity to meet with other Science Award winners and view the videos prepared by Randy Larcombe Film and Imaging http://www.randylarcombe.com.au for the event and for promoting the winners of the Awards.
Dolphin Watch are extremely grateful for the award which provides a much needed boost of $5,000 towards ongoing research effort in the region plus outstanding recognition of the Citizen Science efforts of wonderful volunteers, operational partners, mentors, sponsors and supporters, since 2005 on KI and 2011 in Victor Harbor.
Data collection is the lynchpin of all Citizen Science projects but it is sometimes worth considering why people take part in such activities.
It is often because of an intense interest, a care for or even a love of a species or special place that defines community member’s passion and commitment.
Our dedicated Dolphin Watch community volunteers of all ages collaborate with Scientists on effective “Citizen Science” on boat-based surveys, land-based monitoring and community data input, contributing a staggering number of volunteer hours since 2005.
Images and video footage are collected, identifying individual dolphins by distinctive dorsal fins and body markings. Vital data is recorded on movements and habitats, creating a vitally important sustainable, longitudinal study.
Our core business is data collection with respect to regional dolphin populations and habitats. In regular workshops we transform this data through collation, analysis and cataloguing and recording to inform conservation effort.
It is important to realise the need to use that data for protection and conservation of that which we hold dear. An ethos of custodianship and stewardship should be a desired outcome of any project involving Citizen Scientist volunteers. If we wish people to care for species and their habitats they must first have experiences of them and it is this characteristic of immersion which underpins the best and most successful and enduring longitudinal research projects engaging Citizen Scientists.
A huge thankyou to our wonderful sponsors I-NEX Corporation http://www.i-nex.com.au an Australian software developer and supporter, for their long term partnership, funding, faith, encouragement and support, creating and maintaining our website and database for 17 years!
I can honestly say that joining Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch (KI/VHDW) is changing my life for the better.
And there are several reasons for that.
Most of my life has been spent on, in or close to the ocean; boating, fishing, scuba diving, swimming or quite simply sitting.
With a love of all things marine, moving to Australia on the very last day of 1998 was an easy choice. On previous trips to this great country, I had spent treasured time on liveaboards on the Great Barrier Reef, diving, and snorkelling, enjoying the amazing sea-life.
And in the years before, I had visited many wonderful dive sites around the world, including Turkey (Bodrum) and Israel (Eilat). Amongst the glorious marine creatures I encountered, dolphins were always the most special.
Working as a marine scientist would have been my dream but, unfortunately, science wasn’t really a thing at my school way back when! So, I take every opportunity I can to get involved with marine projects.
Arriving on Kangaroo Island in 2020, and discovering KIVHDW, was such a buzz, so exciting and a dream come true. I was given contact details for Phyll and Tony Bartram and, before I knew it, I was off on my first survey.
Taking part in these surveys has not only introduced me to the dolphins of KI but also to some of the nicest people I have ever met. People who feel more like family, who have welcomed and embraced me.
Recovering from cancer, I get so much out of these trips. As well as interacting with the dolphins and learning more about them and their habitat, the surveys are helping me heal, mentally and emotionally.
And we all know dolphins have healing abilities!
Interacting with dolphins
There are those who say humans should not interact with wild animals. But how else do we learn? It’s not the interaction that’s the problem, it is how it is managed. KIVHDW members show great respect for the animals and the environment. The fact that the dolphins come to us shows how keen they are to interact and how interested they are in learning about humans.
Animal behaviourists have observed that animals can benefit from interaction. When we go out on a survey, the dolphins appear to enjoy swimming around the boat, diving, and surfacing, even rolling on their sides to get a better look at us.
Just who is being studied here?
Research clearly shows that when people interact with animals in their environment, it promotes better understanding and education. And that leads to more support for conservation and protection.
And then there’s the knowledge we gather through the surveys. How else would we be able to argue against developments such as Smiths Bay? Who else will speak up for the animals?
The importance of Citizen Science must never be under-estimated; it is crucial that ordinary people have the opportunity to study our world and share their knowledge. This empowers communities to speak up and make positive change.
Better access to more scientific data has never been more important. And funding that research through Citizen Science must continue if we are to protect our natural world.
The people who take part in these surveys are willing to input time and energy, passion, and patience. But we couldn’t do any of this without the practical support of people like Andrew Neighbour, and all our sponsors.
Citizen scientists provide a cost-effective means of carrying out essential studies. And they have been studying cetacean populations for decades, all around the world. Shore and boat-based research is enabling us to learn more about the dolphins, their behaviour, and their environment.
Being a part of this is a privilege. And it feels good to be making a difference to the world in which we live. I would recommend the experience to anyone interested in marine life and the ocean.
For me personally, I cannot get enough of it! We are there to gather data but sometimes, I just have to stop and watch and enjoy. The feeling of joy and peace that comes over me helps calm the anxiety that has always plagued me.
As a person with high-functioning autism, this has become a key part of my new life on Kangaroo Island, and I intend to be involved for many years to come.”
Isobel Coleman June 9th 2021
Thankyou so much dear Izzy for so kindly sharing your very special story. We have always felt Dolphin Watch is life changing for all of us, and we are delighted it is so for you too! Such a joy to have you on board!
In March and April 2021 we celebrated significant milestones in our region with our 16th and 10th Birthdays – 16+ years of Citizen Science in the region on Kangaroo Island since 2005 and 10 years since we expanded to Victor Harbor in 2011.
Volunteers, scientists and dolphins….. a magical mix!!
We have undertaken 336 boatbased research surveys on Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures www.kimarineadventures.com.au (220) and The Big Duck Boat Tours www.thebigduck.com.au (116) Eco Tourism vessels plus volunteers regularly joining marine tours in the region, collecting vital data to supplement our survey efforts. 64 boat surveys on KI core group volunteers Sue and John Holman’s small Stacer “Maggie” have been undertaken on Kangaroo Island since Feb 2019, plus a massive number of landbased monitoring surveys at various sites in the region.
Our purpose is to monitor and gather data regarding the movements of dolphins in our regional waters, creating ever expanding catalogues of Common Bottlenose dolphins and Shortbeaked Common dolphins, using photographic identification techniques taught to us by our mentor Dr Mike Bossley AM. Establishing dolphins’ home range and preferred habitats enables us to work towards increasing their protection with a view to conservation. Volunteers experience life changing community action and custodianship, caring for their environment and natural resources, impacting globally and effecting change.
Dolphin Watch was created as a project for senior students to involve them in practical environmental studies and issues related to the marine environment. It has morphed into a longitudinal community project which sees Citizen Science volunteers of all ages actively involved in data collection, analysis, collation, cataloguing etc. It is egalitarian as each participant can choose their own level of involvement and do as little or as much as they like to contribute. It has multi entry levels so that anyone interested can take part.
Volunteers all have passion in common plus a love for dolphins and the marine environment. Everyone can see the need and understand the relevance of the work and the need for it to be undertaken. Its value to the global community and worldwide conservation effort is understood fully.
We recently completed an extensive detailed review of the Kangaroo Island data and are well on the way to completing the Victor Harbor review, with analysis and transformation of this fascinating regional data. Working with our scientific advisors towards higher levels of protection than currently exist, our current focus areas include non seasonal breeding plus further connectivity investigations etc.
The designation of Kangaroo Island’s North Coast as a Mission Blue Hope Spot www.mission-blue.org in 2020 is a great recent success. The project has won many awards over the years including an IFAW and two UN Awards and the Australian Government’s Minister’s Award for Coastal Custodians in 2007. We trust that bringing international attention to bear on the Hope Spots – Kangaroo Island North Coast and the Great Southern Reef www.greatsouthernreef.com, and the remarkable endemism which abounds, the message will gradually get out there. So much protection and conservation effort has brought the Great Australian Bight and Kangaroo Island’s waters on to the world stage and started gleaning interest in the temperate waters wonderland that exists.
Through the involvement of the International Union for Conservation of Nature www.iucn.org in both the Hope Spot and the recent Important Marine Mammals Area designation, the word is spreading about the special nature of the Reef.
Grateful thanks as always to our wonderful partners, sponsors, supporters and volunteers who make it all happen.
Please hop on over to follow our ongoing Citizen Science activities on Instagram and Facebook @kivhdolphinwatch or Twitter @KIDolphinWatch and should you be in the region we would love to see you and welcome you on board!
This is our last chance to object to Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers proposed industrialisation of the pristine North Coast of Kangaroo Island, with a wood chip timber export port, now referred to as “a multi-user deepwater port facility”!!
Stunning Smith Bay is right is the middle of Australia’s newest @missionblue Kangaroo Island North Coast Hope Spot declared in August 2020.
PLEASE read wonderful Mission Blue www.mission-blue.org Founder Dr Sylvia Earle’s letter below, appealing to Premier Steven Marshall in September 2020.
PLEASE submit an objection by responding to KIPTs Addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement through an email to the Minister for Planning and Local Government firstname.lastname@example.org by February 12th 5pm.
Or if you prefer:
THANKYOU Dr Sylvia Earle and all at Mission Blue!
Tuesday 15 September, 2020
The Hon. Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia
State Administration Centre, 200 Victoria Square, Adelaide SA 5000
I am pleased to inform you that the Kangaroo Island-North Coast has been approved as a Mission Blue Hope Spot and as such is now one of 131 areas recognized for their exceptional natural, scientific, aesthetic, social and historic importance. Mission Blue, a U. S. based conservation organization, works closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and more than 200 international partners to secure enhanced recognition and protection for places such as Kangaroo Island’s North Coast, the Great Barrier Reef, the Coral Sea, Galapagos Island, Palau, Antarctica’s Ross Sea and other sensitive areas regarded as global treasures.
The nomination was submitted by Tony and Phyll Bartram of Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch working in collaboration with Australian Ocean Laboratory – AusOcean. It has the support of many other stakeholders including both the State and Federal Members of Parliament, corporate entities, ecotourism operators, other Not-for-Profit organizations and community members. The involvement of the stakeholders and supporters indicates the widespread interest in protecting a wonderfully rich ecosystem with incredible biodiversity – a veritable marine wonderland, the home for sea creatures as distinctively Australian as kangaroos and koalas.
Enhanced protection for this unique region is of special importance now because of the current proposal to carve an export facility at Smith Bay in the heart of the North Coast by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers to facilitate the export of timber. If the port is approved, construction and operation of the port will result in a huge loss, not only for South Australia, but for the world. This is an area that has remained remarkably resilient, an economically and ecologically valuable temperate equivalent to the Great Barrier Reef. And, like the Barrier Reef, the region is vulnerable to human actions that serve short term interests but incur enduring and irreparable loss. Any potential threats to this relatively unspoiled, largely intact area should be carefully considered both in terms of environmental damage and lost economic potential.
The special nature of Kangaroo Island, a key part of the Great Southern Reef, is described in a 2019 AusOcean Smith Bay Marine Ecology Report by Catherine Larkin :
“Yet temperate waters hold a great diversity of marine life and few more so than the waters of southern Australia, increasingly referred to as the Great Southern Reef (GSR). Unlike tropical reefs in which species are distributed globally, 90% of species found in the Great Southern Reef are endemic to southern Australia.
These are not cosmopolitan species that might just as easily pop up on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a reef in Belize, The Maldives or The Philippines. These are marine species that are native to Australia and geographical isolation has confined them to our waters. They are as much a part of the Australia’s wonderful natural heritage as our unique terrestrial wildlife. Kangaroo Island’s marine environment is particularly significant as it encompasses semi protected Gulf waters, unprotected Southern Ocean waters and areas of confluence between the two. While several marine studies have been conducted over the years, generally these have been quite sparse in their geographical coverage.”
Protecting special areas in the ocean has proven to be economically rewarding and effective as a means of maintaining the health of the ocean and of helping to recover damage already incurred by pollution, overfishing and other human actions. At Mission Blue and with our partners globally and locally, we are looking forward to supporting actions by the South Australian and Australian governments that will safeguard Kangaroo Island’s North Coast as an enduring gift for people in the 21st century – and beyond.
Dr. Sylvia Earle
Founder, Mission Blue
KIPT’s Second Addendum to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
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“We have some great news – Australia’s Kangaroo Island North Coast is now a Hope Spot!
Located off of South Australia, Kangaroo Island is part of the Great Southern Reef and about 85% of the species in the area are endemic, found nowhere else on Earth. It is home to elegant leafy sea dragons, the endangered Southern right whale, large coral colonies that have thrived for hundreds of years – and Kangaroo Island kangaroos, a small, grey species found only on the island.
This Hope Spot designation recognizes the Champions’ goals of increased marine protection for the island’s surrounding waters, the expansion of ecotourism and research tourism in the area, and the need to protect Kangaroo Island from a proposed timber port project.”
Hope Spot Champions: Tony and Phyll Bartram of Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch @kivhdolphinwatch Hope Spot Partners @ausocean
Please find Mission Blue’s Kangaroo Island North Coast Hope Spot launch here:
Kangaroo Island’s unique North Coast is now the focus of international interest and scrutiny in the coming months as part of a collaborative effort by Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch and the Australian Ocean Lab – AusOcean www.ausocean.org to successfully nominate it as a Hope Spot under the Mission Blue Project. www.mission-blue.org
“Congratulations on the designation of Kangaroo Island North Coast as an official Mission Blue Hope Spot. We are thrilled to recognize you as the Hope Spot Champions for Kangaroo Island North Coast.
As you know Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean – Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.
While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than six percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed.
They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope due to:
• A special abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats or ecosystems
• Particular populations of rare, threatened or endemic species
• A site with potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts
• The presence of natural processes such as major migration corridors or spawning grounds
• Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values
• Particular economic importance to the community
The Hope Spots Council made this designation based on the merit of the nomination and the criteria mentioned above. We commend you for all of your work with Kangaroo Island North Coast and celebrate with you for this designation. We stand in solidarity with you and support your efforts to protect this incredible place.”
Kangaroo Island’s fabulous North Coast will be the focus of international interest and scrutiny in the coming months as part of a collaborative effort by Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch and AusOcean nominating it as a Hope Spot under the Mission Blue Project.
This initiative could see the area, one of only a handful of such designated sites around Australia’s coastline, promoted widely as one of the world’s most important marine environments.
The Mission Blue Project www.mission-blue.org is the brainchild of Dr Sylvia Earle considered amongst the world’s most highly respected marine authorities, a leading marine scientist and explorer. It has resulted in some of the world’s most important marine habitats being afforded greater protection and profiling as places to visit for people from around the globe.
As part of the Great Southern Reef, KI’s temperate waters are home to an incredible number of species with at least 85% found nowhere else in the world.
Dolphin Watch Coordinator Tony Bartram met on several occasions recently with Shannon Rake via Zoom while she was isolating in California. Shannon is the Mission Blue Hope Spot Program Manager who offered great encouragement and advice to the co-nominators in an extensive, far reaching discussion.
It is possible in the near future, as a result of this initiative, that the marine environment of KI’s North Coast may be considered in the same light as the terrestrial environment, capable of providing extraordinary world leading wildlife experiences. This is something for which the island’s land based environment is renowned.
It deserves nothing less than this special recognition as the following quote from Catherine Larkin of AusOcean outlines:
“KI is unique in that it sits at the confluence of two oceanographic systems providing unique habitat that supports an abundance of marine species, many of which have high conservation value. From Leafy sea dragons, to pods of 100 dolphins and large coral colonies that have existed for hundreds of years, KI has provided an important refuge for many vulnerable species whose numbers have declined significantly elsewhere.”
This promising proposal will be assessed by the Mission Blue Council early in August.