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Assessing the citizen science approach as tool to increase awareness on the marine litter problem

Locritani, M., Merlino, S., Abbate, M.
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.140 pp. 320-329
coasts, environmental education, environmental monitoring, high school students, marine debris, questionnaires, water pollution, Mediterranean Sea
This paper provides a quantitative assessment of students' attitude and behaviors towards marine litter before and after their participation to SEACleaner, an educational and citizen science project devoted to monitor macro- and micro-litter in an Area belonging to “Pelagos Sanctuary” (Mediterranean Sea). This approach produced interesting outcomes both for the research sector of marine pollution and environmental monitoring, as well for the scientific and environmental education. Here we focus on citizen science as an effective vector for raising young people awareness of marine litter and fostering sound behaviors. A specially designed questionnaire was administered to 87 High School students, to test the validity of such approach. The results state that the students change quantitatively their perception of beach-litter causes and derived problems, and they improved their knowledge about the main marine litter sources and the role of the sea in the waste transport and deposition along the coast.