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Highlights Archive
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CITIZEN SCIENCE:On our Oceans and Coasts

Published March 2016

Participants in the Hudson River Eel Project enjoy their work.
(Credit: Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve)

NOAA Office of Education hosted the Federal Community for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science first monthly meeting of 2016 with a focus on how citizen science can be used to study oceans and coasts.

Four panelists from the NOAA Citizen Science Community of Practice showcased projects that are making a positive impact on the health of our oceans and coasts:

Chris Bowser, Education Coordinator for the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Science Education Specialist for the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Project opened our session with a lively presentation "Respect Your Elvers! Migratory Fish Conservation through Citizen-Science." The Hudson River Eel Project is a citizen-science program where 500 trained volunteers catch, count, and release migrating American eels into Hudson River tributaries from NYC to Albany. Since 2008 this project has released over 250,000 eels above barriers to migration.

Jenna Jambeck, an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia discussed the success of the Marine Debris Tracker app she co-developed, highlighting the power of citizen science data collection to spread awareness and inform solutions. With over 12,000 downloads of the app and more than 81,000 marine debris entries, the project is growing strong!

With new legislation banning microbeads in soaps and toothpaste, the work of a specialized group of citizen scientists in Florida is particularly timely. Maia McGuire, a Florida Sea Grant Extension Program agent at the University of Florida, created the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project in 2015. Funded by a NOAA Marine Debris Outreach and Education grant, the project trains volunteer citizens to collect coastal water samples, filter the samples, then identify and report microplastics found.

Crowd-sourced bathymetry was the focus of Lieutenant Anthony Klemm's fascinating presentation. Lt. Klemm, with the NOAA Commissioned Officers Corp, works at NOAA's Office of Coast Survey and discussed NOAA's support of the International Hydrographic Organization's Crowdsourced Bathymetry Project

The meeting was dedicated to the memory of Richard G. Hendrickson, a citizen science volunteer extraordinaire who contributed to the Weather Service’s corps of Cooperative Observers for more than 80 years. You can learn about Mr. Hendrickson and his legacy from this article from the Washington Post and this op-ed.

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