Now we finally dispose of some powerful evidence that despite of many critical voices, citizen science really does work.
Of course we knew that already.
We've been employing trained observers to record data on Shark Reef since 2003, and those observations have been the backbone of many of Juerg's papers where they have complemented the data obtained via acoustic and satellite telemetry. In 2012, the concept has been expanded throughout the whole of Fiji where every six months, the majority of preeminent dive operators are participating in the Great Fiji Shark Count where they are counting Sharks, Rays and Turtles with their customers and passing on the data to the project team and ultimately, Christine. On top of that, Projects Abroad are now conducting such counts on every dive and uploading the data to eShark, meaning that Beqa Lagoon is now being monitored year-round.
And the results?
This is long term monitoring, and trends will only become visible over time - but when it comes to the Sharks, anecdotal evidence is already pointing to local declines. My hope is that we may well see an improvement once the authorities will have to increase their monitoring and management effort in line with the looming implementation of CITES.
We shall see.
But that's another story.
Congratulations to the indefatigable Gabe and the dream team from Western Australia for yet again an excellent job.