In the spirit of sharing data, Ocean Sanctuaries encourages participation in other ocean-related citizen science projects. Some of the ones listed below we have had experience with… others we have not. Pick one that seems to align itself best with your skill set and interests. We have ordered them below, in order of complexity of training, beginning with the easiest first.
Have you seen a jellyfish, red tide, a squid, or other unusual marine life recently? If so, tell Jelly Watch about it. Marine biologists need your help to develop a better understanding of the ocean. If you’ve been on the beach or in the ocean lately, you can contribute to a long-term dataset by telling them about the animals you saw or the conditions of the beach. You can help them even more by submitting a picture of what you saw.
A perfect introduction to learning to identify new species and record them (and share them with others) online. While iNaturalist is not primarily an ocean-related project, many divers have used it to record marine species. We highly recommend it. They are also connected with the California Academy of Sciences and the Encyclopedia of Life.
SharkBase is a global shark encounter database helping to map the distribution and structure of shark populations worldwide. Please get involved and become a Citizen Shark Scientist by submitting your past, present, and future shark encounters to SharkBase. Even if you have never seen a shark in the wild, you can still contribute to SharkBase by submitting sightings that you see in the news or on the Internet. For more information, watch the video below and check out the links at the top of the page.
Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Citizen Science Central
While not specifically geared towards ocean-related citizen science, Cornell has one oldest CS labs in the country and provides many valuable resources and tool kits for designing your own CS project–despite the name, it’s not only for birds.
See here for more: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/toolkit/steps
The User’s Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science was developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers for practitioners who want to evaluate learning outcomes from their citizen science projects.
See also their Citizen Science Toolkit: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/toolkit/about
Cornell Citizen Science Central Email Listserv–CSC email lists have a wide variety of CS and educational professionals on them and are an excellent resource for additional training for CS educators:
See here for more information: http://tinyurl.com/lomnoss
“CitSci.org was developed through the Natural Resources Ecology Lab (NREL) at Colorado State University as an initiative to promote citizen involvement in scientific research. Initial funding came from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant OCI-0636213.
We are partnering with Citizen Science Central to connect our volunteer coordinators with resources to help guide them in starting citizen science programs. We also collaborate with the citizen science data management working group of the DataONE program to facilitate data sharing and stewardship.”
See here for more information: https://www.citsci.org/
“Reef.org’s mission is to “to conserve marine ecosystems for their recreational, commercial, and intrinsic value by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active stewards and citizen scientists. REEF links the diving community with scientists, resource managers and conservationists through marine-life data collection and related activities.
REEF envisions divers and marine enthusiasts actively engaging in marine conservation. With knowledge, training and the opportunity to get involved, these marine citizen scientists make significant and ongoing contributions through REEF’s strategic partnerships with government agencies, science and academic institutions, the non-profit sector, and local communities. Divers and snorkelers are in a unique position to observe and document the many valuable and vulnerable living marine resources. They play an important role in bringing information to the surface that adds to the knowledge base of ocean ecosystems and facilitates informed decision-making. Through REEF’s efforts, marine citizen scientists impart an ethic of stewardship to current and future generations.”
Reef.org pioneered the ‘roving diver’ method of underwater data collection.
See here for more: http://www.reef.org/about/faq
Reef Check California
Reef Check is a much more rigorous program whose training enables volunteer divers to collect data using many of the same methods used by professional marine biologists, but be advised that the training is not free, like Reef.org and does require annual re-certification to remain active in the program.
“Reef Check California aims to build a network of informed and involved citizens who support the sustainable use and conservation of our nearshore marine resources. To accomplish this, volunteers will be trained to carry out surveys of nearshore reefs providing data on the status of key indicator species.”
For more information see: http://reefcheck.org/rcca/rcca_home.php
RCCA Monitoring Protocol: http://reefcheck.org/rcca/monitoring_protocol.php
Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team
COASST is a citizen science project of the University of Washington in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and community groups. COASST believes citizens of coastal communities are essential scientific partners in monitoring marine ecosystem health. By collaborating with citizens, natural resource management agencies and environmental organizations, COASST works to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Do you enjoy walking on the beach? Are you interested in learning more about the marine natural resources in your area? Want to play an active role in marine conservation? Become a COASST volunteer.
Project Aware Dive Against Debris Program
In response to the onslaught of marine debris, one of the biggest ocean issues of our time, Project AWARE launched Dive Against Debris.
Created by divers for divers, this global, underwater survey of rubbish is designed to increase debris removal efforts, prevent harm to marine life and connect your underwater actions to policy changes and prevention.
Dive Against Debris with a buddy or organize a group of volunteers. Get Started Here:
Report Sea Star (Starfish) Wasting Syndrome
Sea stars along much of the North American Pacific coast are dying in great numbers from a mysterious wasting syndrome. As yet the cause of the syndrome is unidentified, and it’s not clear whether it’s a due to an environmental change, disease or something else. If you come across sea stars which appear to have symptoms of SWD, you can report them here. Photographs will help marine biologists determine at what stage of the disease they are in.
American Academy of Underwater Sciences Sciences (AAUS) Scientific Diver
AAUS Scientific Diver is offered by some research institutions and aquariums across the country. Acceptance criteria and training may widely depending on the institution. Note: this is not a normal C Card that can be used for renting gear in a dive shop, but is mainly for research purposes.
Los Angeles: contact the Volunteer Diver Coordinator for the California Science Center for more information: http://californiasciencecenter.org/support/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities
Wise Oceans is a leading resource in marine conservation jobs, advice, news, events, marine education, information and recruiting marine educators.
Online University Courses at Coursera.org
Are you a frustrated marine biologist? Want to take a real, college-level marine biology/oceanography/ocean ecology course from an online university? Coursera.org may be the solution for you. Most courses are free and if you are extremely busy, you can sign up just to watch the videos for no credit. Pay extra for a Completion Certificate. Course availability varies, so keep checking back if you don’t see what you want the first time.
For those serious about getting involved in citizen science, Citizenscience.org is the place to begin: it is the involvement of the public in scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations. The Citizen Science Association unites expertise from educators, scientists, data managers, and others to power citizen science. Join us, and help speed innovation by sharing insights across disciplines.