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    HomeScienceSea horse research gets a boost from volunteer citizen-scientists

    Sea horse research gets a boost from volunteer citizen-scientists

    Members of the public are helping to advance research on sea horses, the tiny fish that can be found in coral reefs, shallow waters and estuaries around the world, according to a study.

    When researchers looked at the results of public contributions to the iSeahorse science project between 2013 and 2022, they found the community effort enabled scientific advances in the field.

    Citizen contributions provided new information on 10 of 17 sea horse species with data once considered deficient and helped update knowledge about the geographic distribution of nine species, researchers wrote in the Journal of Fish Biology. Some of the observations even helped scientists better understand when and how sea horses breed.

    Founded in 2013, the iSeahorse project asks the public to record sea horse sightings and observe the animals’ behavior. According to the project website, iSeahorse has amassed about 11,000 observations from more than 1,900 contributors to date.

    Overall, the researchers were able to validate 7,794 of the observations from 96 countries and 35 sea horse species. The volunteer observers even noted rare species that traditional monitoring probably would not detect, they write.

    “Seahorses are very much the sort of fascinating species that benefit from community science, as they are cryptic enough to make even formal research challenging,” Heather Koldewey, the project’s co-founder and the lead on the Bertarelli Foundation’s marine science program, said in a news release. Koldewey, who co-wrote the study, said the new findings underscore the importance of community science efforts in raising awareness and achieving conservation goals.

    Want to get involved? Visit https://projectseahorse.org/iseahorse/ to learn more.

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