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DECC seeks to crowdsource marine data

DECC seeks to crowdsource marine data

The Department of Environment and Climate Change is set to launch a citizens’ science project to assist with the monitoring of its underwater webcam, as well as other projects.

The hope is to use the power of crowd sourcing to help map Gibraltar’s marine life as viewed through the webcam.

“What we have is a standard form and with your underwater camera page open if you see anything of interest you take a screen shot and log it in the form,” said Clive Crisp, from the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

“That way we have more substantial data and log than just from us here in the department.”

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Anyone who wants to take part in the project can do so by emailing marine.monitoring@gibraltar.gov.gi

Gibraltar’s underwater camera, the first of its kind in Europe, turns your computer or phone screen into live aquarium – as anywhere between 500 to 1,300 website visitors a day can attest.

The camera is at a depth of 13.5 metres and has been in place since 2005, with all the maintenance and work done in-house by the Department.

The area the department selected to home the camera was chosen for a number of reasons, one being that it would have a good land connection for the power and internet to the camera. Another, because the area is a marine conservation zone and is fully protected.

“It is the best areas to have the underwater camera and we will be able to see as well the positive effects of having a ‘No Take Zone’, which we are seeing to date,” Mr Crisp said.

“It has now been three years that the camera has been in place and we have seen things that we didn’t expect to see in the underwater camera.”

“We have seen tuna, we have seen pelagic fish such as amberjacks, groupers, cormorants diving down in front of the camera. We have seen octopus sat on top of the camera. There is a long list, including various breams and even spotted a shrimp,” he added.

Other species include an eagle ray, baitfish, sea bass, red mullet, cuttlefish, squid, all types of colourful wrasse, moray eels and spider crabs. There have also been messages from local scuba divers to loved ones held up in front of the camera.

The use of the underwater camera ranges from the casual fan checking it out to people using it as a source of information and research and a source that enables them to count fish without actually interrupting their environment.

The camera used is the first of its kind in Europe and is also used in the United States, where some viewers of the live feed live.

Other viewers come from places such as Australia, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Brussels and Turkey.

“There are people who are looking at throughout the world,” said Mr Crisp.

The camera undergoes maintenance roughly every six weeks during a dive that take an approximate 40 minutes to complete. The wiper needs to be cleaned and cables checked on a regular basis.

The camera can be viewed at http://www.thinkinggreen.gov.gi/cameras/underwater-camera

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