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INTEGRATING CITIZEN-SCIENCE AND MOBILE WEB APP AS A TOOL FOR THE CONSERVATION OF CETACEANS IN SAN MATIAS GULF, RIO NEGRO PROVINCE, ARGENTINA
Magdalena Arias, Ra?l A. C. Gonz?lez, Enrique A. Crespo, Federico G. Riet Sapriza
Citizen science programs are increasingly popular. This useful tool is an alternative way to obtain valuable information on wild populations, especially in areas in which the budget and logistics are limited. This study presents preliminary results of the first citizen science initiative aimed to gather information about cetacean biodiversity in the San Matias Gulf, Argentina. This platform, called E-WHALE, consists in a web form and an interactive map that allow citizens to observe in real time where the different species of cetaceans are in the San Mat?as Gulf. A total of 509 sightings of eight different cetacean species (four mysticetes and four odontocetes) were recorded during a period of nine months. Most cetacean sightings were recorded in the San Antonio Bay Marine Protected Area during the whale-watching season. This study demonstrates that with a strongnetwork of citizen science that involves the local stakeholders, it is possible to obtain data on cetacean species richness.