Highlighting Citizen Science Projects

Published 2018-11-16

Photo: iNaturalist

Observation is the foundation of scientifically studying the natural world. Citizen science programs allow anyone who is interested to record observations and learn about the natural world while contributing to research and conservation of important organisms and environments. Here are a few citizen science programs that allow volunteers to participate in data collection and observation of the marine environment. There are many citizen science programs out there, so check out other programs in your local community to learn how you can get involved!

1. iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/

iNaturalist, which can be installed as an app on your smartphone, allows volunteers to take photographs of wildlife, learn about organism identification, share photos with fellow iNaturalists, and discuss their findings with the online community of over 750,000 people. The project is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. iNaturalist provides opportunities for volunteers to assist in ongoing projects or even start their own! Observations of plants and animals are shared with scientists across the globe to study biodiversity and the distribution of organisms.

2. Orcasound: https://www.orcasound.net/

Orcasound is a citizen science project used to collect information on the Southern Resident Killer Whale population in the Salish Sea. On the Orcasound app, volunteers listen to hydrophone recordings collected in the Salish Sea and record whale sounds and calls that they hear. The app includes tools to help volunteers learn to recognize the commonly heard sounds on the hydrophone recordings.

3. Eyes of the Reef Network Hawaii: https://eorhawaii.org/

Eyes of the Reef is a collaborative community reporting network for coral bleaching, disease, crown of thorns, and marine invasive species in Hawaii. Volunteers can become members of Eyes of the Reef and receive trainings on proper identification and recognition of reef diseases and reef organisms. Whether you like to snorkel, scuba dive, or swim in the ocean, you can report your observations of the reef to assist with reef management and conservation!

4. The Horseshoe Crab Count: https://www.delawarebayhscsurvey.org/

The Atlantic horseshoe crab is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and uses specific areas on the US East Coast as summer nursery grounds and spawning areas. Annual migration of crab and their spawning activities provide an important food source for birds, fish, invertebrates, and turtles. The Horseshoe Crab Count program provides training and opportunities for volunteers to assist with annual surveys of crab abundance.