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Nautilus Project launches tracking map for nature lovers

The Nautilus Project launched its new app NEMO at an event in the John Mackintosh Hall on Monday evening.

The app is a reporting platform that alerts its users to sightings of different marine species and enables them to update it with their own sightings.

The Minister for Environment, Dr John Cortes, himself a keen species spotter, was also at the launch.

This app will mean that users know what areas should be avoided if there are, for example, jellyfish present.

But it also allows users who are interested in certain migrating species to be aware of where they have been sighted.

While over the past few years the Nautilus Project has been successfully pushing and raising awareness on plastics in Gibraltar’s seas and beaches, it also wanted to highlight other areas it has knowledge on.

“We are not just a one trick pony, we are not only about plastic, we are about other things,” said Lewis Stagnetto, a marine biologist at the Nautilus Project.

“We are at schools all the time and we are trying to engage the students because we believe very strongly that engagement with students is important and in order to elevate that importance in environment and have them connected,” he added.

“Then they will want to protect it themselves.”

The Nautilus Projects goes to the schools in Gibraltar to teach pupils about the various shoreline creatures on the Rock, organising field trips to see, hold and learn more about local species.

However, the Nautilus Project team felt something was missing and that was providing adults and other children with the same information and engagement they were imparting and having onto children. Hence, the NEMO app was born.

“It is really important that people are constantly engaged with the environment and in my head, something like Pokemon Go happened. It struck me as to how silly it would be to go around looking for pretend animals when we have actual real animals in the world that people can engage with,” said Mr Stagnetto.

The app allows users to upload their own photos and include information such as how many of the species were spotted.

Dr Cortes congratulated the Nautilus Project on the launch and said: “I think it is really useful, not just to warn people about not going to the beach but also as a logging device for sightings.”

“Obviously, you have to filter because not everybody will be able to identify precisely but even if they don’t, you have more information than you have now. I think it is a wonderful resource, well done and congratulations,” he added.

Mr Stagnetto thanked the various people who have given the project and app help in getting it to the launch, which included IT specialists, photographers, catering businesses and the actors in a promotional movie clip.

But he gave special thanks to one person, his wife Melanie.

“Probably the most important thank you I have to give tonight, because she puts up with me in a way that no other person has to, Melanie, she is very special and I don’t just say that because she is my wife. None of this would be possible without her,” he said.

Pic by Eyleen Sheil