In late 2007, two San Diego divers were at a crossroads: they had been diving together since 2002, come up through the various certifications together: Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver, Dive Master and Master Diver respectively had both logged over 500 dives each and were unsure where to go next. They had seen ads on the Internet for a group called Reef.org , which offered to train divers to recognize local marine life and then log their sightings in a database used by marine biologists to monitor coastal conditions and it sounded intriguing. So, Barbara Lloyd and Michael Bear signed up to begin the journey along the path of scientific diving.
Next to follow, was training by another similarly named group called Reef Check California, which, unlike Reef.org, their training was a bit more rigorous and not free—but, well worth the experience , involving as it did doing transect line surveys of marine life in the lush kelp forests off the coast of California. Lloyd continue to develop her skills as an underwater filmmaker.
In 2010, another opportunity arose for further Science Diver training at the California Science Center, which offered American Academy Underwater Sciences (AAUS) certification, which provided valuable training in animal husbandry assisting aquarists as volunteer divers, helping to feed and maintain the marine life at the center.
Around this time Bear developed a personal interest in Sevengill sharks after having an encounter with one off the coast of La Jolla, so he set up a citizen science website to enable divers to log there encounters with this species of shark, called Sevengill Shark Sightings.org
So, after two years at the California Science Center, another crossroads has been reached: where to go at this point?
In 2014, Lloyd had the idea of setting up an ocean-related related nonprofit organization (NPO) that would be focused mainly on gathering and sharing data from various citizen science projects, as well as documentary filmmaking.
It would be called Ocean Sanctuaries.org
Currently, OS offers San Diego divers the opportunity to collect data for two separate shark monitoring projects.
The Sevengill Shark Monitoring Program, which uses a pattern recognition algorithm, developed by Jason Holmberg, to help identify sharks which return to San Diego from year to year as well as another program sponsored by National Geographic, called Fieldscope.
Fieldscope uses that organization’s most recent customizable citizen science data collection tool to gatherdata on San Diego sharks.
OS hopes to break down some of the ‘silos’ in the various citizen science databases and encourage sharing of data between scientists and citizen scientists alike, as well as encouraging in community participation and wise ocean stewardship among the general population.
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