Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Shoreline Monitoring: Citizen Science, Restoration Effectiveness, and Data Integration

Description

Seattle Audubon’s Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS) deploys trained observers throughout much of Puget Sound for monthly winter seabird surveys. The program expanded in 2013 to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet, an area considered at high risk for oil spills. That program included a pilot oil spill early-reconnaissance program (OSERP).

OSERP leveraged the local knowledge of the PSSS citizen scientists and their training to record objective data. In addition to the training they received on surveying seabirds, they received a separate training module on oil identification, safety protocols, and reporting. All observations were to be made outside of contaminated areas, so no HAZWOPER training was included. A response drill and subsequent interviews were conducted to examine the effectiveness of the program.

Results showed that citizen scientists were dependable and timely resources who can collect ancillary data related to oil spills. Suggested improvements included simplifying reporting protocols and developing robust reporting resources that provide multiple methods for communicating and summarizing observations. Additional observations can also be reported, depending on the qualifications of the citizen scientists, such as the occurrence and description of oiled wildlife.

This study shows that citizen scientists involved in existing nearshore programs, are ideal candidates for ancillary oil observations as they are self-selected, dedicated individuals with local knowledge, already trained in scientific methods of objective observations, and are locally available for rapid response. We suggest that the OSERP could be introduced to numerous programs to increase geographic coverage as the scope of oil spills from multimodal transportation continues to increase and we provide examples of how this additional coverage can be achieved. To best leverage these resources, citizen scientists need training in advance of a spill event and the OSERP must not interfere with the normal activities of the original programs.

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Developing oil spill early-reconnaissance programs in existing citizen-science programs

2016SSEC

Seattle Audubon’s Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS) deploys trained observers throughout much of Puget Sound for monthly winter seabird surveys. The program expanded in 2013 to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet, an area considered at high risk for oil spills. That program included a pilot oil spill early-reconnaissance program (OSERP).

OSERP leveraged the local knowledge of the PSSS citizen scientists and their training to record objective data. In addition to the training they received on surveying seabirds, they received a separate training module on oil identification, safety protocols, and reporting. All observations were to be made outside of contaminated areas, so no HAZWOPER training was included. A response drill and subsequent interviews were conducted to examine the effectiveness of the program.

Results showed that citizen scientists were dependable and timely resources who can collect ancillary data related to oil spills. Suggested improvements included simplifying reporting protocols and developing robust reporting resources that provide multiple methods for communicating and summarizing observations. Additional observations can also be reported, depending on the qualifications of the citizen scientists, such as the occurrence and description of oiled wildlife.

This study shows that citizen scientists involved in existing nearshore programs, are ideal candidates for ancillary oil observations as they are self-selected, dedicated individuals with local knowledge, already trained in scientific methods of objective observations, and are locally available for rapid response. We suggest that the OSERP could be introduced to numerous programs to increase geographic coverage as the scope of oil spills from multimodal transportation continues to increase and we provide examples of how this additional coverage can be achieved. To best leverage these resources, citizen scientists need training in advance of a spill event and the OSERP must not interfere with the normal activities of the original programs.