Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are particularly useful to assess fish assemblages and to obtain reliable fish inventories. This study shows the value of underwater photo contests as complementary tools to achieve these goals.

The authors examined 3513 underwater pictures taken by free divers and scuba divers participating in two photo contests organized by the Italian Federation of Sport Fishing and Underwater Activities. The competitions were held in the Italian MPAs of Punta Campanella (Tyrrhenian Sea) and Capo Rizzuto (Ionian Sea).

The results show that altogether 97 fish species, 89 at Punta Campanella and 75 at Capo Rizzuto, were identified in different coastal habitats. The authors highlight that their number was considerably higher than the one obtained with other census techniques and was close to the maximum number of species described at the two locations, as shown by accumulation curves.

By analysing this data, the study also found significant differences in species richness at the level of both location and habitat type. The authors discuss the reasons for such differences along with the advantages and limitations of underwater photo contests as a participatory tool to obtain regular updates on coastal fish inventories in MPAs and in wider areas.

Tiralongo et al. (2021) Underwater photo contests to complement coastal fish inventories: results from two Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean Marine Science DOI: