Public Interest in Marine Citizen Science: Is there Potential for Growth?

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Social studies in citizen science typically focus on existing project participants. We present results from an online survey of 1145 marine users to identify broader public interest in marine citizen science. Although we found considerable community interest, the most enthusiastic tended to have a higher education in science, were under 45 years old, primarily enjoyed SCUBA diving, and had contributed to scientific research in the past. The type of research organization involved in a project played a role in people's willingness to share information. The discourse of public participation in scientific research encourages public involvement in all aspects of the scientific process; however, we found that the respondents were primarily interested in data-collection opportunities. Feedback and past experiences in research were important considerations for gaining and retaining the volunteers. Our results indicate considerable potential for growth in volunteer recruitment, which can contribute constructively to scientific and public knowledge of the marine environment.

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