How Does the Diversity of Divers Affect the Design of Citizen Science Projects?
Divers have widely participated in citizen science (CS) projects and are one of the main groups of marine citizen scientists. However, there is little knowledge about profiles of, and incentives for potential divers to join CS projects. To date, most studies have focused on the SCUBA diving industry; nevertheless, there is a diversity of divers, not all using SCUBA, who engage in different activities during their dives. Differences in diver profiles could affect their willingness and ability to contribute to CS. In this study, we compare the diving profile, interests, preferences and motivations to participate in CS of five diver types (artisanal fishermen, recreational divers, instructors, scientific divers, and others). All divers have strong interests in participating in CS projects, with no major differences among diver types. In general, they are interested in a wide variety of themes related to CS but they prefer simple sampling protocols. Divers are motivated to participate in CS to learn about the sea and contribute to science. Some important differences among diver types were found, with artisanal fishermen having significantly more dive experience than other diver types, but less free time during their dives and limited access to some communication channels and technologies. These characteristics make them ideal partners to contribute their local ecological knowledge (LEK) to local CS projects. In contrast, recreational divers have the least experience but most free time during their dives and good access to cameras and communications channels, making them suitable partners for large-scale CS projects that do not require a high level of species knowledge. Instructors and scientific divers are well-placed to coordinate and supervise CS activities. The results confirm that divers are not all alike and specific considerations have to be taken into account to improve the contribution of each diver type to CS. The findings provide essential information for the design of different types of CS projects. By considering the relevant incentives and opportunities for diverse diver groups, marine CS projects will make efficient gains in volunteer recruitment, retention, and collaborative generation of knowledge about the marine environment.