In 2014 Michael Bear and I founded Ocean Sanctuaries as an ocean-related related nonprofit organization (NPO) that would be focused mainly on gathering and sharing data from various citizen science projects, as well as documentary filmmaking. We became very interested in Sevengill sharks and had been collecting data on sightings in the San Diego area since 2009. For some reason we could not find any organizations that were interested in gathering data on these sharks. We realized that we might be able to fill a gap and so we founded Ocean Sanctuaries, not just to collect data on Sevengill sharks but to create an organization which is a collaboration between citizen scientists, scientists, and other like-minded organizations to foster greater understanding, wise ecology, species protection and good stewardship of the ocean and related habitats. We hope to do this by creating a community which educates and shares information through multi-media, social media, and the web. We also make data and imagery, gathered by citizen scientists, available to the general public, scientists, and other organizations. Ocean Sanctuaries™ is committed to breaking down data ‘silos’ and sharing data with other groups whenever possible in the Open Source model……see Citizen Science Projects Section on right for news about data sharing with other ocean-related citizen science projects.
My journey to creating Ocean Sanctuaries began in 2002 when I became a Volunteer Research Diver / Science Diver in Training with San Diego Coastkeeper (aka San Diego Bay Keeper). I was trained in scientific monitoring methods using transects and quadrats. I performed underwater surveys of algae, invertebrates and fish under the supervision of the kelp project lead. In 2004 I received the San Diego Bay Keeper Certificate of Excellence as well as becoming an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Scientists) Science Diver in Training.
In 2004 I continued my volunteer research diver activities by joining San Diego Oceans Foundation and becoming a volunteer Research Diver with the Yukon Artificial Reef Monitoring Project (ARMP) under. During that period, I earned the PADI Yukon Research Diver Specialty. I performed underwater surveys of algae, invertebrates and fish on both transects and quadrats.
Then 2007 I became a volunteer Research Diver with REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation). I was trained in the roving diver survey methods. I performed underwater surveys of invertebrates and fish in the coastal rocky reefs of California. In 2009 and 2010 I participated in the Annual REEF/Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary/SIMON [Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network] marine life survey, under the direction of Dr. Christy Semmens, Director of Science for Reef and Dr. Steve Lonhart of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary/SIMON.
In 2008 I became a volunteer Research Diver with Reef Check California (RCCA). I was trained in the community monitoring methods using transects and quadrats. I performed underwater surveys of seaweed, invertebrates and fish, and substrate. In addition I participated in urchin size frequency surveys.
In 2010 I joined the California Science Center and resumed my AAUS science diver in training. I volunteered as a science diver maintaining the CSC living kelp forest aquarium. My duties ranged from giving talks about the kelp forest ecosystem, as the diver using underwater communication devices, to cleaning, feeding, and performing any maintenance required for the kelp forest habitat and holding tanks.
My path to co-founding Ocean Sanctuaries was similar to Barbara Lloyd’s.
In late 2006, I found myself at a crossroads, having come up through the various diving certifications, up to and including Master Diver and having logged over 500 dives, I was unsure where to go next. What could I actually do with my diving experience that would be both fun and educational?
I had seen articles on the Internet about a group called Reef.org , which offered to train divers to recognize local marine life and then log their sightings in a database used by marine biologists to monitor coastal conditions and it sounded intriguing.
So, I began training as a Roving Diver for Reef and logged many instructive dives, learning the various species of San Diego and California marine life through Reef’s seminars and practice dives in and around San Diego and the Channel Islands.
For a couple years, we also participated in the Annual REEF/Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary/SIMON [Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network] marine life survey, under the direction of Dr. Christy Semmens, Director of Science for Reef and Dr. Steve Lonhart of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary/SIMON, where we learned the basics of being a citizen science diver.
Next to follow was training by another similarly named group called Reef Check California (RCCA), whose training was a bit more rigorous and not free of charge as Reef.org had been—but, well worth the experience , involving as it did doing transect line surveys of marine life in the lush kelp forests off the coast of California, under sometimes less than ideal conditions.
Right around this time, I developed a personal interest in Sevengill sharks after having an eye-opening close encounter with one off the coast of La Jolla, so out purely personal interest, I set up a citizen science website to enable divers to log encounters with this species of shark, called Sevengill Shark Sightings [http://sevengillsharksightings.org/]. This project ended up snowballing well beyond the original spreadsheet it started out as and began attracting the interest of some professional shark researchers, as the first of its kind citizen science baseline population dynamics study of this species of shark in the San Diego area.
In 2010, an opportunity arose for further Science Diver training at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, which offered American Academy Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Scientific Diver certification, and provided valuable training in animal husbandry, assisting aquarists as volunteer aquarium divers, helping to feed and maintain the various forms of marine life at the Center during shows for the public.
After a couple of fruitful years at the California Science Center, another crossroads had been reached: where to go at this point?
In 2014, Barbara Lloyd had the idea of setting up an ocean-related related nonprofit organization (NPO) that would be focused mainly on gathering and sharing data from various citizen science projects, as well as some documentary filmmaking.
It would be called Ocean Sanctuaries.
We felt this would be the perfect vehicle to establish a non-profit devoted almost exclusively to ocean-related citizen science projects and sharing the data obtained from them with the both the professional and the citizen science community.
Our philosophy is: that you never stop learning.
We hope you will come with us on this journey of discovery and scientific learning–we think it will be both exciting and fun!
3-1-18 SD Voyager Interview: Meet Michael Bear of Ocean Sanctuaries
‘How to Become a Citizen Scientist’ with Michael Bear
A Speak Up for the Blue Podcast with Andrew Lewin
Web link: May 10, 2017: http://www.speakupforblue.com/tag/citizen-science
Also available on Stitcher and iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-speak-up-for-blue-podcast/id1010962669?mt=2&i=1000385291897