Regional Citizen Science Projects and Collaborators

SeadragonSearch has teamed up with several exciting regional projects

SeadragonSearch is engaged in collaboration with other community-driven research projects based in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. While we are based in Western Australia ourselves, it is SeadragonSearch’s goal to collect data on a national scale, across all of Australia’s southern coast. By connecting a “core team” of researchers representing all Australian states where seadragons occur, we are able to share data and coordinate our work. Core team members meet regularly to share photographic data, exchange seadragon research updates, improve outreach and community engagement in seadragon research projects, and collaborate in improving conservation outcomes for all seadragon populations. 

Take a moment to get to know our collaborators a bit better:

Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest is a citizen science project based in Victoria and led by Kade Mills of the Victorian National Parks Association. The project invites divers to share their underwater images of seadragons from the areas around the Port Phillip and Western Port bays, in order to gather data about populations of weedy (or common) seadragons in those areas. Dragon Quest uses simple pattern-mapping software to identify individual seadragons in photographs based on their unique markings, and they hope to eventually catalogue all of the seadragons in their area of study. Mills points out that Port Phillip Bay is “the busiest shipping terminal in the country and home to over 5 million people”, but very little is known about the seadragon populations living there. “Understanding the size of the population is one of the first steps to conserving this iconic species.” Dragon Quest is funded by the Victorian Government’s Port Phillip Bay Fund with additional support provided by the University of Technology Sydney and the Underwater Research Group of New South Wales. Kade Mills is a core team member of SeadragonSearch, and you can learn more about Dragon Quest here.

Dragon Search South Australia

Dragon Search South Australia is a citizen science project located on the iNaturalist platform and led by Janine Baker and Tony Flaherty, who have been involved in seadragon research since the 1990s. It is an extension of the original 1996 Dragon Search program based in southern Australia and a 2013 pilot project for seadragon research conducted by divers in South Australia. Baker explains that “Visual databases and mapping programs such as iNaturalist are a more collaborative and engaging way for divers to log their sightings, compared with the paper form and web-based form, used in the original program during the 1990s and early 2000s respectively”. The team hopes that this project will also lead to an “Adopt A Dragon’s Lair” program in regional areas of South Australia, which will help to further study and protect seadragon habitat. Baker adds that in addition to collaboration with SeadragonSearch, “The project contents will also be available upon request to quarantine authorities in Australia, who help to protect seadragon populations from poaching and illegal export”. Janine Baker and Tony Flaherty are core team member of SeadragonSearch, and you can learn more about Dragon Search South Australia here.

Dragons of Sydney- Citizen Science Program 

Dragons of Sydney is a citizen science project based in New South Wales, and is built on collaboration between scientists, volunteer divers, and supporting organizations. It is led by researchers Dr. David Booth and Dr. Selma Klanten of the University of Technology Sydney along with John Turnbull and Kris O’Keeffe of the Underwater Research Group of New South Wales. The program invites divers to share their underwater images of weedy (or common) seadragons, and then uses I3S software to analyze those images and compare them against a library of seadragon imagery. The leaders of the project emphasize that “weedy seadragon research is reliant on citizen scientists taking good quality images during dives” and that data derived from the photographs will “contribute to tracking these unique animals and supporting efforts to conserve them”. They also encourage and receive kelp/seaweed surveys and observations of mysid shrimp swarms in order to monitor the health of habitats for seadragons. David Booth and Selma Klanten are core team members of SeadragonSearch. Kris O’Keeffe and John Turnbull are key collaborating photographers with SeadragonSearch. You can learn more about the Dragons of Sydney program here.