Crab Watch!

Crab Watch is a citizen science initiative developed as part of the Sea Change Project. The initiative will explore how citizen science can be used as a tool for increasing Ocean Literacy, as well as collecting valuable scientific data. Crab Watch will generate data to enhance our knowledge of the changing distribution of native and non-native crabs, as well as information to support environmental management.

Anyone finding a crab on the shore for the first time will experience a sense of excitement and wonder (and maybe a bit of trepidation if it is a particularly large one!). The goal of Crab watch is to harness this enthusiasm to encourage participation in this citizen science scheme. Crabs are charismatic, and with a little guidance can be found around Europe in all marine and some freshwater habitats. They have great commercial and cultural significance in many countries, making them a popular subject for art and folklore. They are also impacted by the activities of humans, including warming seas, invasive species and overexploitation, making them an ideal subject to help demonstrate how humans and the Ocean are inextricably linked.

Hemigrapsus sanguineus FrontView
The Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) is spreading rapidly around Europe and may impact native crab populations

Several species of non-native crab, in particular the Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus), brush-clawed crab (Hemigrapsus takanoi), sally light-foot crab (Percnon gibbesi) and Chinese mitten crab (Eriochier sinensis) are present in multiple European countries. There is evidence to suggest that the Asian shore crab (H. sanguineus) in particular is likely to negatively impact populations of the native European shore crab (Carcinus maenas). Participation in the project aims to raise awareness of the impact of non-native species and encourage people to think more about marine biosecurity.

‘Crabbing’ is a popular past-time in the UK and it is hoped that Crab Watch will encourage other European residents to take up this hobby with the added incentive of contributing to science. Free resources will promote crab welfare and environmental good practice among ‘crabbers’ old and new. By providing encouragement to visit the sea and interact with marine creatures in a meaningful way, the scheme will encourage people to think positively about the marine environment and participants will be encouraged to explore and learn about the great diversity of life found in the Ocean.

paper plate crab
‘Crabby’ crafts at a Crab Watch event

The coastlines of Europe range from the negligible tides and sandy shores of the Mediterranean to some of the highest tidal ranges in the world on the rocky Atlantic coasts. To account for this variation, the scheme includes 3 key elements, each designed to maximise engagement and cater for people with different levels of interest and in different geographical areas. Ad-hoc recording of crabs using a specially developed App will form the core of the initiative. More in-depth and structured survey protocols have been developed for use in the intertidal zone and from the shore in areas where intertidal surveys are not possible. These methods include the crab-friendly mark and recapture method using lipstick tagging to avoid unnecessary retention of live animals. These activities will form the basis for Crab Watch events and provide a ‘next step’ for anyone engaging with the App and wanting to get more involved. By establishing a scheme to record and report crab distribution and an associated team of Crab Watchers around Europe, it is hoped that new arrivals will be quickly detected, allowing for appropriate management action.

Data collected through the app will be georeferenced and participants will be able to use their records alongside those of others to create their own maps. It will also incorporate a key, which is being developed in collaboration with a group of interested teenagers in the UK. Data collected will be checked and validated before being passed to relevant marine and wildlife data hubs (e.g. EUROBIS) where they will be freely accessible to all.

Crab Watch surveys have been taking place around Europe to test protocols and draft resources as well as to collect feedback from different audiences. The scheme will be more widely launched for resource and system testing in March 2017 with a full launch in June. The team is even exploring the idea of establishing International Crab Day to promote this wonderful group of animals!

If you are interested in getting involved with Crab Watch, in particular promoting the project or running your own Crab Watch survey events, contact Jack Sewell (

A Crab Watch survey underway on an Estuary in the south west of England in 2016

Miniboats Help Students Learn About the Atlantic: Our Shared Resource

AORA Boat 1Imagine being part of a class that builds, decorates, and launches a miniature sailboat that can be tracked on the Internet as it sails the ocean currents around the entire Atlantic Ocean! The 2016 Atlantic Miniboat Regatta “Around the Atlantic - Our Shared Resource” is a coordinated effort between Educational Passages, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) and other professional marine organisations and institutions in support of 22 elementary, middle, and high schools from eight countries where students are doing just that. Students will track their miniature sailboats, powered solely by wind and ocean currents, on a transatlantic course using the Educational Passages website. Educators will take advantage of the on-site teaching tools addressing Earth and ocean science, meteorology, naval architecture and other cultural topics.

The majority of the miniboats are expected to follow historic sailing routes. U.S.-launched boats will take the northern route “up and east” towards Europe. European-launched boats will sail “south and west” into the Caribbean and (hopefully) continue to South America. Most miniboats will make landfall several times on their way. Using GPS position reports, participants will be able to watch their boat’s progress and coordinate recovery efforts by identifying partner schools as the miniboats approach coasts before they are threatened by watery obstacles. Working closely with the EU-funded Sea Change Project, rescued miniboats will be taken to local partner schools where learning and international relations ensue. Once recovered, arrangements will be made for miniboat repairs and re-launching, with messages and other items added to the watertight compartment to be discovered at the next site of recovery. Whether recovered or not, it is expected that the majority of the miniboats will eventually sail back to their launching point. The program promotes understanding of the Atlantic Ocean as a shared resource through ocean literacy.

The goals of the “Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource” Regatta are threefold: 1) to provide STEM learning opportunities to students of all ages as their sailing miniboats circle the Atlantic, 2) to engage in collaborative learning through international cultural experiences and 3) to increase student and citizen understanding of the value of the Atlantic as a shared resource. Educational Partnership partners include the School of Ocean Technology, Newfoundland; Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium; Maine Maritime Academy; University of Maine, Marine Science School; The College of Exploration, Virginia; PLOCAN Platform Ocean Research Center in Canarias; Washington College, Maryland; Evolution Sails; and Ships of Opportunity. To learn how you can participate in Educational Passages and its regattas, contact Richard Baldwin at

AORA Boat 3  AORA Boat 2

Caption:  Miniboat Shields Surfer sponsored by the Shields Elementary School PTO set sail December 13, 2016, from Philadelphia after being launched from the cargo ship Frisia Bonn outside the Gulf Stream after leaving Delaware Bay.  Follow along at Image courtesy J. S. Griffin.


Estonian Science Centre to hold a youth camp on marine sports and environmental protection

AHHAA posterEstonian Science Centre AHHAA is organising a youth camp on the theme of marine sports and environmental protection at the beginning of January 2017. The camp will be held on a floating raft house complex near one of the largest lakes in Europe, Lake Peipus with some activities possibly taking place on the lake. Since the Baltic Sea that borders Estonia to the West has very low salinity (approx. 8-10‰) and is therefore not rich in different species, its ecological conditions are similar to those of Lake Peipus, making the lake a perfect location for the youth camp activities.

The aim of the event is to draw attention to the connection between humans and the water environment and show the similarities between Lake Peipus and the Baltic Sea. Moreover, the activities to be carried out in the camp will introduce different aspects of water safety via real exercises in the cold water and will encourage the participants to become more ocean literate in their everyday behaviour.

Sea Change will be presented in different activities, such as in discussion games (e.g. Play DECIDE) in which we will be using Sea Change factsheets. The hazards of human behaviour on marine organisms will be demonstrated and discussed in the hands-on fish necropsy workshop to be carried out. Sport enthusiasts will feed in their ideas and viewpoints into the event planning and take an active part in promoting environmentally responsible behaviour during our activities by carrying out the safety exercises in the water as some of the members of the Estonian Rescue Board are also active in water sports.

The webpage for the event is available at:

Date: 3-5 January 2017



Innovative Public Engagement Activities to Increase Awareness of the Ocean across Europe

Press Release: October 2016

The Sea Change project is holding a series of innovative public engagement activities across Europe in 2016 and 2017 to change the way European citizens view their relationship with the ocean. These outreach activities, which will be announced on the Sea Change calendar (, are being co-created with citizens based on public consultations.

Many people are not aware of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean, thus lacking a sense of “Ocean Literacy”. The EU-funded Sea Change project aims to raise European citizens’ awareness of the intrinsic links between ocean and human health and to empower us to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean.

Early in 2016, citizens from across Europe produced videos on innovative concepts or events that would increase people’s awareness and appreciation for the ocean. The winning ideas, including an educational activity box about coastal safety, a board game about ocean acidification and a contest to develop ocean-friendly clothes, have inspired public engagement activities which will be organised in seven European countries over the next year.

Aquaria and science centres across Europe will hold events to bring people together to share experiences and broaden their minds about the ocean. In an inter-generational exchange, senior citizens will share their knowledge and experiences from living or working on the coast with young people. Other events will engage water users, for example water sports enthusiasts, who will act as ambassadors for the ocean by spreading their passion for protecting this important resource.

Dr Jan Seys, Head of Communication at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and lead on this Sea Change mobilisation element, said: “By ‘injecting’ Ocean Literacy into science centres which have vast experience in science outreach and education, we hope to expand the levels of Ocean Literacy amongst the public. Science centres and aquaria are very strong ambassadors when it comes to sharing scientific knowledge with the public.”

The public engagement events kicked off with an ocean weekend at the children’s museum Muzeiko in Bulgaria from 7-9 October 2016. The festival featured activities designed to increase Ocean Literacy among children and their families, including: fun sports and activities related to water resources; movies dedicated to water sports and marine adventures; and meeting real ocean adventurers. Participants even had the opportunity to collect stamps from each activity and win an award as part of a Sea Change game.

All Sea Change outreach events seek to bring about real actions to increase Ocean Literacy using behavioural, systems and social change methodologies recommended by lead methodologists and social innovation experts Dr Christine Domegan and Dr Patricia McHugh from NUI Galway, Ireland. The activities will adhere to the five principles of behaviour change, which state that in order to influence behaviour, it is important to: get to know your target group(s)(Client Principle); help individuals pay attention to alternative choices (Competition Principle); look at the system you want to influence as a whole (Collective Principle); seek imaginative and innovative solutions (Creative Principle); and identify any discrepancies between what people value and how they behave (Change Principle).

Tomas Rehacek, project manager from Ecsite who is leading the task on public engagement through innovation said: “We hope that these creative formats of public engagement will educate people about the indispensable role of the ocean and make them think about the changes they can make in their lives to help the Ocean become healthier.”

Discover more about past, current and upcoming Sea Change events and initiatives at:, follow Sea Change on Twitter (@SeaChange_EU) or like us on Facebook (@SeaChangeProjectEU).


Alexander Kirilov, a Bulgarian diver speaking at the Muzeiko’s Adventure Kids Day diving workshop. Source: Julian Hristov

before the films

Nataly Petrova, director of Bansko Film Fest discusses her selection of films at Muzeiko’s Adventure Kids Day movie workshop. Source: Julian Hristov

New Online Course Offers Educators Innovative Ways to Teach Ocean Literacy

Press Release: October 2016

EMB Sea change Increasing ocean literacy 3

A free online course entitled “From ABC to ABSeas: Ocean Literacy for all”, led by Sea Change partner UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), will empower second-level teachers and marine educators to give students a greater understanding of the importance of the ocean. The course will be available, on the European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA), from 7 November 2016 in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and Catalan.

Many European citizens are not aware of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean. In other words, many of us lack a sense of “Ocean Literacy”. This clearly presents a barrier for citizens to engage in ocean-responsible behaviour or consider ocean-related careers. Experienced educators, tutors, professors and researchers from the EU Horizon 2020-funded Sea Change project have developed this novel Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with the aim to create a deeper understanding amongst European citizens of how their health depends on the health of our seas and ocean.

Course developer and instructor Dr Francesca Santoro from IOC-UNESCO said: “The ocean plays a fundamental role in the health of our planet and of human beings. We need to become aware of its importance to be able to act as responsible citizens. This Ocean Literacy MOOC will take you on a journey to understand the ocean and how we can behave responsibly to enjoy its full potential.”

The course will provide support and advice for teachers and educators to incorporate the Ocean Literacy into educational programmes, sharing activities and lesson plans developed by experts in the field of Marine Education. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will be able to take the Ocean Literacy principles and concepts into the classroom using a range of innovative educational approaches. They will be able to suggest engagement and exploratory learning to their students, as well as develop enquiry-based activities with an interdisciplinary context.

“This MOOC will allow you to be part of a dynamic group of teachers, marine scientists and educators from all around Europe, and beyond. You will have the chance to learn about Ocean Literacy and innovative teaching methods, and share your experiences and approaches with colleagues”, said Dr Santoro.

The ultimate goal of this educational resource is to equip teachers with the tools to encourage their students to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources. It will be available for four weeks, from 7 November - 5 December 2016. A certificate of participation will be issued to all those that complete at least 70% of the course activities.

For more information on the MOOC or to register see:

 MOOC leaflet