Citizen Science is the involvement of volunteers in collecting relevant scientific information, usually within their communities. Citizen Science enabled the Pacific Salmon Foundation to cost-effectively study the entire Strait of Georgia in real-time and continues to be the foundation for three key research initiatives within the Marine Science Program.
There is great value in partnering with volunteers on scientific endeavours including: maximizing information collection in cost-effective ways; developing capacity through scientifically competent citizens; and, broader awareness and understanding of issues and the need for stewardship within communities. We are incredibly grateful to all of our citizen scientists who participate in programs and encourage you to get involved by reaching out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three key citizen science programs continue to provide significant information for our Marine Science Program:
Citizen Science Oceanography Program
Now in its ninth year, this program engages trained volunteers with boats who collect oceanographic data —such as sea temperatures — in defined areas of the Strait of Georgia.
Usually ocean monitoring is conducted by large, expensive research boats which provide snapshots in time. By using a fleet of community operated small boats, we can cost-effectively provide a consistent stream of precise, almost real-time data on the entire Strait. The information provides a better understanding of ocean conditions that drive food availability for Pacific salmon stocks. The program is a partnership between PSF, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Ocean Networks Canada.
The method is straightforward: citizen scientists use a “CTD” to collect and store information on water conductivity, temperature and depth. Two auxiliary sensors are also used to measure fluorescence and oxygen content. The data collected are transmitted via a custom smart phone app and uploaded to an oceanographic database at Ocean Networks Canada where it is validated and archived. Four other elements of the work are done by hand to assess water quality (collecting nutrients, chlorophyll, harmful algae, zooplankton). Currently we are also collecting water samples to assess biotoxins). Collecting oceanographic measurements this way allows us to be “everywhere at once” and make accurate, consistent data comparisons like never before.
For updates about the project, check out these recent newsletters: Citizen Science Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4. The work is also featured in DFO's State of the Pacific Ocean Report in the article 'Spring-Summer Oceanographic Conditions and Harmful Algal Blooms in the Strait of Georgia' find it starting on page 168 of the 2021 report.
Coho and Chinook Adult Diet Program
A study of adult Coho and Chinook stomach contents to understand changes in marine ecosystems, particularly those of key diet components such as forage fish. Data collection is being conducted by volunteer anglers.
Forage Fish Beach Monitoring
Forage Fish are a source of food for an extensive array of larger fish and animals in the marine ecosystem but their populations are difficult to monitor. As climate change and sea level rise threaten their shoreline spawning habitat, there is an urgent need to better understand where these critical spawning habitats are located.