Unesco Green Citizens
Project begin: 01/06/2014

The sensor-packed Smartfin transforms surfers into citizen scientists who help researchers collect data about the ocean, understand the impacts of climate change and inform conservation strategies.

Leading organisation: Lost Bird Project
The country where the team is based: United States of America
Theme: Ocean
Sub-themes: Ocean education, Participatory/citizen science
Tag: #Women #Youth
Selection: 2021
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Project needs
Equipment supply
In search of financial partners
Partnerships development
Sponsorship/ Philanthropy

Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography designed a longboard fin with tiny integrated sensors that measure ocean chemistry. With support from the Surfrider Foundation during user testing, the project is turning surfers, paddle boarders and wave lovers into citizen scientists who are helping fill the data gap at the coastlines, home to our coral reefs and more than 25% of marine species.

Collecting data for ocean research

Data from the Smartfin has proved to be reliable and high-quality, providing denser geographical coverage than existing collection methods. Nearshore ocean is difficult to study but vital for the healthy ecosystems on which nearly 4 billion people in the world depend for their livelihoods. Climate change poses an existential threat to all life on earth. Rising sea temperatures are leading to rising sea levels and a higher risk of natural disasters with impacts on the economy, food security and beyond.

For the first pilot project, 100 fins were distributed, and more than 800 hours of data collected. Since then, the Smartfin has been used globally to collect data on our oceans and lakes. This data has already been leveraged in several scientific studies.

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