Marine Citizen Science, Marine Conservation


50 mins

Learning Objectives:

Learning objectives are: 
a) to identify invasive seaweeds based on taxonomic phenotypic characteristics, 

b) to recognise the negative impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), raising their environmental awareness, 

c) to participate in marine citizen science activities

Description of the learning process and activities:

The game documented here is the one outlined in the published article by Skukan et al. (2020). The game aims to bring awareness about invasive alien species (IAS), specifically invasive seaweed in the Cantabrian Sea (Northeast Atlantic). Documenting the process helps to adapt the game to fit any local context by changing its scope. For instance, the focus can be any other (local, national) invasive alien species resulting from human activity (e.g. fishing, shipping) impacting local ecosystems.

In preparation for the outdoor game, a collection of cards is designed with information about local invasive seaweed. Each card includes a picture of the specimen and its scientific name on the front side and a short description of its impact on the backside. In addition, two types of algae materials (herbarium and samples of marine invasive algae) based on the local biodiversity are concealed in small containers. These will be hidden in a safe area (e.g., playground, fenced area) where the children will gather to play the game.

Working in smaller groups and under the guidance of a game leader, the students start searching for the hidden items, and once they find one, they have to identify the seaweed in the box based on the cards in hand. The game leader asks a relevant question about the specimen, and if answered correctly by the students, their team wins a point. 

If support mechanisms and networks exist (e.g., experts, scientists), in situ observation of potentially invasive material detached from the local area (i.e., beach) can be collected directly and preserved in labs. Learning how to identify invasive species and playing the game can increase the collaboration and data exchange between scientists and young citizens volunteering in active citizen science participation.

Other information required:

University of Oviedo, Aula del Mar, the festival Surf, Music and Friends organisation and I.E.S. Salinas

Resources required:

Cards showing marine invasive seaweeds.
Algae materials in containers.

Note that the web link of the resource cited offers pictures of the material for reference.

More information:

Skukan, R., Borrell, Y. J., Ordás, J. M. R., & Miralles, L. (2020). Find invasive seaweed: An outdoor game to engage children in science activities that detect marine biological invasion. The Journal of Environmental Education, 51(5), 335–346. 

Other remarks:

The game details presented here derive from a study conducted in Salinas High School (Asturias, Spain) by Skukan et al. (2020). The European Commission Grant H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN-642197 has supported this study, project AQUAINVAD-ED.

The game-based activity and the potential application of in situ observation can align with the “discover” step of the OTTER Labs, complementing other activities such as follow-up analyses, discussions, and reflection.