One of the problems with monitoring the spread of invasive critters in the ocean is just finding them. But there are many human eyes peering into the blue these days...eyes that can help science. If you're a scuba diver or a snorkeler in the UK then you could get involved in a spot of citizen science. Your mission should you choose to accept it? Report any sightings for non-native species of fish, invertebrates and plants to 'the authorities'.
DON'T PANIC! Thanks to a clever app developed by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), the University of Bristol, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency , and the Environment Agency, that task is not so difficult. This is how it works..
The app provides information on around 19 easily identifiable invasive plants, fish, and invertebrates. All you have to do is log any sightings of those species on the app and hey presto the data is sent out to the respective organisations. You don't even have to remember all the species off by heart - BSAC have provided a handy ID sheet that you can laminate and take underwater with you.
The app is currently only available for iPhones and iPads, but BSAC promise an android version is on its way in the near future.
Image: A couple of people enjoying snorkeling at Big Pine Key in Florida, USA. Credit Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)