Keith Hiscock, MBA
Some of the most important information to collect about species in our changing seas concerns long-term fluctuations, distributional shifts or the arrival of new species. Also, we are keen to know where rare, scarce and threatened species occur. Volunteers and amateur naturalists have been recording their observations of marine life for more than 150 years and, together with scientific papers and publications such as regional fauna lists, their observations give us important reference points against which to document change.
Some change is now very rapid and some of the species involved are conspicuous and easily identified. So, recording schemes have been developed to engage volunteers in identifying locations and other information (on abundance etc.) for selected species. Validation of records is important as is the establishment of data centres where records are checked against standards and forwarded to the central data repository. Recording schemes have often been successful but have severe limitations and should not replace professional and fully funded monitoring.