A group of people listening to a guide on a wooden walkway by the beach, with an educational signboard about turtles.

Revolutionary Citizen Science Project Fights Sargassum Invasion

In response to the increasing sargassum invasion on the Caribbean and Mexican coasts, the Institute of Engineering of UNAM in Sisal Yucatán, along with other organizations, have launched the Citizen Science Project on Pelagic Sargassum.

In Cozumel, a range of measures have been implemented, including the installation of cameras, a weather station, and a citizen science station at key lookout points. Technology has been a vital component in this collaborative initiative. Mobile apps and online platforms are enabling citizens to report sargassum sightings, providing real-time data that enhances scientific observations.

The community's participation in this project has brought a host of benefits. These include raising public awareness about the sargassum issue, providing scientists with a larger pool of data, and fostering innovative solutions.

This project also promotes a stronger connection between science and society, reinforcing the shared responsibility in environmental protection. In Cozumel, several actions have been undertaken, such as installing fixed cameras, a weather station, and citizen science stations at eastern coast lookout points: Chumul, Chen Río, and San Martin.

These initiatives have been supplemented with informative signs about turtles and the threats they face from beach erosion, sargassum, and plastics. This effort forms part of a wider monitoring initiative already underway in Puerto Morelos and Akumal, and soon to be extended to Xcalak.

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Meetings have been held with teachers from Cozumel, Akumal, and Puerto Morelos to foster collaboration in developing educational materials related to sargassum. This aligns with the goals of the New Mexican School.

Simultaneously, teachers from UQRoo have received training to guide their students during visits to the lookout points and in using the Citizen Science Stations (Coastsnap) for beach and sargassum strandings monitoring. These teachers have also conducted a pilot activity by bringing their students to the stations.

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