Volunteering as a research diver means showing that you really care about the marine environment and are taking an active role to protect it. Not content to simply be led around in a "PADI shoal" like all the average dive tourists, you want to get an in depth understanding of marine ecology and make your diving count.
Gathering underwater data takes considerable diver hours and researchers are turning to divers, as citizen scientists, to provide the information that they need. With underwater digital cameras increasing in quality and becoming cheaper, it is easy to gather photo data that is very useful to marine researchers - once you know what you're looking for.
Gaye Rosier has been leading volunteer divers as citizen scientists on the Costa Brava since 1999, gathering data on Posidonia oceanica and key species data for the Silmar Project since 2009.
Now she is devoting herself to studying European seahorses via her Seahorse Project during their peak breeding season, July and August. She will be accepting just a handful of experienced divers to join her as self-funded research assistants in the Seahorse Project.
Gaye has already built up a photo-base of over 50 individual seahorses that she can recognise by their unique facial patterns. Getting clear macro photos, without the use of flash, whilst hovering inches above the sea bed requires Divemaster level buoyancy skills. Seahorses are easily stressed and data must be obtained without creating any disturbance. Taking part in the Seahorse Project offers a unique opportunity for research assistants to refine their buoyancy skills and improve their underwater photography whilst looking into the private lives of these mythical creatures.