As the new, “official” SEANET blogger and a resident of the southeastern United States, I wanted to bring a story from the South to all Seanetters. This is what I am calling SEANET “Southern-style”. So, let’s get started. The mission of SEANET is to bring together interdisciplinary researchers and members of the public (i.e. citizen scientists) in a long-term collaborative effort along the eastern seaboard to help identify and mitigate threats to marine birds. A big part to realizing SEANET’s mission involves the support from members of the public (i.e. citizen scientists). To this end, the North Carolina national estuarine research reserve’s coastal training program hosted a workshop entitled “Recruiting Citizens to conduct Science & Monitoring” on February 3, 2016 in Beaufort, North Carolina. The workshop objectives were to: learn about citizen science and monitoring projects occurring in coastal North Carolina; discuss what makes a successful citizen science project; and discuss managing project volunteers. At this workshop, I had the pleasure of presenting the SEANET program to the workshop participants and sharing the lessons we have learned the last few years expanding SEANET into the Southeastern Atlantic States. In a nutshell, what we have learned is that through a series of SEANET workshops that we hosted in North and South Carolina resulted in a 5X increase in the number of SEANET routes being surveyed from 2012-2015 which helped us detect an atypical die-off event in razorbills and dovekies during this period that may have gone largely unnoticed if not for SEANET volunteers! However, by the end of this three year period the number of active SEANET routs had declined by ~40%. In addition, we felt that because of general lack of frequent communication with the newly established SEANET volunteers during this time period it may have played a big role in the decline. Lastly, we concluded that volunteers (i.e. the use citizen scientists) is a relatively new practice that conservation organizations and natural resource agencies are utilizing to collect data on natural resources and there is still a lot more we need to learn to realize its full potential! But one thing is for sure, SEANET “Southern-style” is trying to do its part to help SEANET meet its mission. And it goes without saying; a big thank you goes out to Seanetters everywhere! Go SEANET volunteers!
A Workshop: Recruiting Citizens to Conduct Science & Monitoring
February 3, 2016
Beaufort, North Carolina
The workshop presentations, discussion notes and citizen science resources from the workshop can be found here: http://www.nccoastaltraining.net/web/ctp/past-workshops.