Abstract Title

Session S-04I: Citizen Science as a Tool for Conservation

Proposed Abstract Title

The Forage Fish Program: a Citizen Science Project that Derives Benefits for Tomorrow’s Oceanographers

Presenter/Author Information

Ellyn DavidsonFollow

Keywords

Citizens/Education

Location

Room 6C

Start Date

1-5-2014 5:00 PM

End Date

1-5-2014 6:30 PM

Description

The Forage Fish Program is a citizen science initiative where members of the community take to the beaches of the Northeast Pacific to survey for presence and spawning habitat of Pacific Sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) and Surf Smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus). The program provides an opportunity to practice field-sampling protocols and lab analysis in order to assess these spawning features and then to develop models for them at local beaches. These data are valuable for determining which beaches need protection from urban and industrial development, as both can disturb the spawning behaviour of these fishes. The motivated students of the Ocean Student Society (OSS) based at the University of Victoria have partnered with the SeaWatch Society to host the Forage Fish Program in the Greater Victoria Area. Not only are the students passionate about assisting with the effort, but the program provides professional development to help give students new and valuable skills. In this highly competitive job market, students have to diversify themselves in order to increase the prospects of employment after graduation. Since a typical degree program does not offer much in the way of real world experience, Marine Science Students are beginning to feel the pressure and are looking for opportunities to build their skills. By participating in the Forage Fish Program, the OSS students are acquiring new skills, such as transect sampling, filtering techniques and standard lab analysis. They also learn the dynamics of the forage fish species, the range and characteristics of sediments that they spawn in, effects of tidal height, and the impacts of human development. They have also contributed some exciting results: This year was the earliest detection for the presence of eggs in the area and it was the OSS group that collected and provided that data! This information adds to the larger successful effort of protecting Sand Lance habitat, which in-turn benefits all species native to the area. Citizen Science programs like the Forage Fish Program help students gain the confidence they need to do independent research, and harness their passion for the ocean in a tangible way. We hope that the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the students will inspire others to take science into their own hands, benefiting them in their future careers and endeavours.

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May 1st, 5:00 PM May 1st, 6:30 PM

The Forage Fish Program: a Citizen Science Project that Derives Benefits for Tomorrow’s Oceanographers

Room 6C

The Forage Fish Program is a citizen science initiative where members of the community take to the beaches of the Northeast Pacific to survey for presence and spawning habitat of Pacific Sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) and Surf Smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus). The program provides an opportunity to practice field-sampling protocols and lab analysis in order to assess these spawning features and then to develop models for them at local beaches. These data are valuable for determining which beaches need protection from urban and industrial development, as both can disturb the spawning behaviour of these fishes. The motivated students of the Ocean Student Society (OSS) based at the University of Victoria have partnered with the SeaWatch Society to host the Forage Fish Program in the Greater Victoria Area. Not only are the students passionate about assisting with the effort, but the program provides professional development to help give students new and valuable skills. In this highly competitive job market, students have to diversify themselves in order to increase the prospects of employment after graduation. Since a typical degree program does not offer much in the way of real world experience, Marine Science Students are beginning to feel the pressure and are looking for opportunities to build their skills. By participating in the Forage Fish Program, the OSS students are acquiring new skills, such as transect sampling, filtering techniques and standard lab analysis. They also learn the dynamics of the forage fish species, the range and characteristics of sediments that they spawn in, effects of tidal height, and the impacts of human development. They have also contributed some exciting results: This year was the earliest detection for the presence of eggs in the area and it was the OSS group that collected and provided that data! This information adds to the larger successful effort of protecting Sand Lance habitat, which in-turn benefits all species native to the area. Citizen Science programs like the Forage Fish Program help students gain the confidence they need to do independent research, and harness their passion for the ocean in a tangible way. We hope that the dedication and professionalism demonstrated by the students will inspire others to take science into their own hands, benefiting them in their future careers and endeavours.