What do you do with your time when you’re old and retired? For a group of French grandmothers, the answer is to swim and snorkel 3 kilometers five days a week off the coast of New Caledonia. It sounds like quite the leisurely lifestyle, but all the while their snorkel excursions are leading to valuable contributions for understanding marine ecosystems.
Recently, the team of grandmas discovered a large population of venomous sea snakes in a bay in Noumea, where scientists once believed they were rare. The grandmas snapped photos and sent them to researchers from the local university, who have now come to realize that they vastly underestimated the population of greater sea snakes in the area. Through these new findings, the researchers now understand that the snakes play a key role in the functioning of the local marine ecosystems, helping to improve the nutrient cycling in the coral reefs.
Would this work have been possible without help from the citizen scientist’s grandmas? No chance!