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Climate change citizen science

Published 26 June 2024 Using citizen science data to map changes in fish and other marine species distribution due to climate change.
content image SCUBA divers are well placed to record and report sightings of species that are moving south along the NSW coast in response to warming ocean temperatures (Photo: Jarrad Baker).


Why is this project important?

As the ocean warms, many marine plants and animals are moving to keep pace with their preferred temperatures.

Along the NSW coastline, this means species are moving further south. This shift south is changing our coastal environments.

Assessing this change is vital for the ongoing management of our fisheries and coastal ecosystems into the future.  

This project engages citizen scientists already observing marine species as they fish, snorkel or dive to develop a better understanding of how the distribution of our marine life is changing due to climate change.

Given that fishers, snorkelers and divers often visit the same place over time, they are well placed to detect species that are new to the areas.

NSW DPIRD has teamed up with Redmap Australia (Range Extension Database and Mapping Project) to harness the power of citizen science to better understand which species are on the move along the NSW coastline.

You can see what marine species are on the move on the NSW coast by checking out the NSW Citizen Science Report Card or see the most recent out-of-range citing on the NSW REDMAP website.

You can find out about other DPIRD Fisheries Marine Ecosystems projects on the DPIRD Fisheries website.

What have we achieved so far?

To date, we have:

  • Undertaken a decadal assessment (2012–2021) evaluating the contributions of ocean citizen scientists to our understanding of how marine species around Australia are shifting where they live in response to ocean warming.
  • Published and distributed a NSW citizen science report card and National Citizen Science Poster that detail out-of-range species observations reported by over 230 ocean citizen scientists throughout NSW and Australia.
  • Identified the environmental and biological drivers of out-of-range sightings of marine species around the Australian continent, including throughout the NSW marine estate.
  • Published a comprehensive review of marine species that are undergoing a climate-driven redistribution around the Australian coastline.

“As our oceans warm, many marine species are moving further south along the Australian coastline. Snorkelers, divers, beachcombers and fishers are seeing this – and we need their help to capture these rapidly occurring changes.” Dr Curtis Champion, DPIRD Fisheries Research Scientist.



Local government areas - Statewide

Lead agency

    Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development - Fisheries Research


    We are working closely with The Range Extension Database and Mapping Project (Redmap Australia; redmap.org.au), hosted by the University of Tasmania, to deliver this project.

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