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Your Neighbor Could be Doing Science

July 20, 2012

Your Neighbor Could be Doing Science
By Catie Bursch, Marine Educator/Illustrator Kachemak Bay Research Reserve

Twenty six residents of Kachemak Bay are out on the beaches and docks this season voluntarily doing science. Who are they and what exactly are they doing?

Six of them are middle school students spread along the coast from Bear Cove to Little Jalolof, setting traps at low tide on their family’s’ beaches. Twenty four hours later, these kids pick their way over rocks, clipboards in hand, to record their catch. They are monitoring for an invasive crab known to cause havoc on native crab and shellfish stocks, the infamous European Green Crab! These crab have not been found in Alaska to date, but are steadily creeping their way up the West Coast. History proves that the best way to deal with invasive species is to find them early before they become established. While always hoping NOT to catch an invasive, the real learning happens as these teens pull native sculpin, crab and sea stars from the traps, and identify and measure each organism. Their pencils record it all on waterproof data sheets they will turn in to the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve Community Monitoring Program.

Other volunteers sweep the water for phytoplankton with sock shaped, fine-meshed nets. Later, sitting in their cabins, they peer through microscopes to see what is blooming in the living sea. Trained to recognize certain cells that could lead to shellfish poisoning, they pass the information they gather to the Research Reserve.

Community Monitoring

These volunteers are using their observation skills, curiosity and dedication to learn more about Kachemak Bay. They are monitoring for things that could harm us or our native stocks, but additionally the records they make provide valuable documentation of our natural system that is often overlooked.
New volunteers are welcome. For more information about our Community Monitoring program please contact Catie Bursch at 907-226-4661.

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