1) Education Goal: To increase understanding and raise awareness of the threats facing the queen conch fishery in The Bahamas.
2) Policy Goal: To collect and report scientific data on the proportion of immature conch that are harvested in The Bahamas to fishery management decision makers.
A citizen science project is a great way to achieve both goals because of the basic information about conchs that is conveyed in the training, the hands-on nature of the data collection, and the amount of data that can be collected by hundreds of volunteers. During the project, participants learn interesting and new things about the conch life cycle, conch anatomy, and the latest science on the fishery in The Bahamas. They also learn how scientists use simple methods to estimate the age and reproductive maturity of a conch, which goes a long way in the “eye opening” department. Finally, everyone enjoys putting their skills to the test during an actual survey of a conch shell pile or “midden”. At the end of each session, the citizen scientists are able to review a preliminary analysis of their data and discuss their findings. The more data we collect, the more sharing and comparing can be done between islands, and the more useful this information will be to policy makers when deciding how to create a sustainable conch fishery in The Bahamas.
We’ll be posting the results from all of the communities on this blog, so check back often!