Contribution of citizen science to improve knowledge on marine biodiversity in the Gulf Region

Aurora M. Castilla, Rodrigo Riera, Mohamed Ali Humaid, Theodore Garland, Ali Alkuwari, Sabir Muzaffar, Humood A. Naser, Salman Al-Mohannadi, Dhafer Al-Ajmi, Ahmed Chikhi, Jackie Wessels, Mohamed A.F. Al-Thani, Zoltan Takacs, Aitor Valdeón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Monitoring marine biodiversity is costly and practical solutions have to be implemented to identify species and their preferred habitats, particularly in this era of rapid global change. Citizen science has proven to be effective and with high potential for monitoring efforts, and has been extensively applied to biodiversity. We have used the citizen science approach to engage the general public and stakeholders to contribute improving the current knowledge of sea snake biodiversity in Qatar and the Gulf Region. Logistic regression analysis using demographic data from interview surveys conducted in Qatar has indicated that the people having seen more sea snakes are older than 30 years and are Qatari citizens and/or fishermen from India. Of the ten species of sea snakes listed in the literature to be present in the Gulf Region, most of them have been reported for Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. However, the number of species present is often assumed based on their occurrence within the Arabian Gulf rather than on actual captures and appropriate identification. The creation of marine reference biological scientific collections to properly identify the species and make accurate biodiversity inventories is an urgent priority for the countries in the Gulf region. To this end, contributions by stakeholders and the general public for this study have proven to be very useful. However a larger networking with local and international scientists and stakeholders is still needed to adequately survey the country's current biodiversity, identify research priorities and eventually provide the scientific input needed to assist biodiversity management related to renewable resource management and marine conservation in the Arabian Gulf Region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-135
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Association of Arab Universities for Basic and Applied Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Arabian Gulf
  • Interview survey
  • Marine sustainability
  • Museum collections
  • Public perception
  • Sea snakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Mathematics
  • General Materials Science
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Energy


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