EPA recently awarded funding to MassBays under the Exchange Network Grant Program to provide tools, training, and services to citizen groups conducting water quality monitoring in the Bays. The project will result in the following products:
1. AquaQAPP, an online application facilitating preparation of Sampling and Analysis Plans/Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for marine and freshwater water quality and benthic monitoring programs.
2. Data management archiving for groups conducting monitoring, through EPA’s Water Quality eXchange (WQX) platform.
3. Training workshops and one-on-one assistance to monitoring program coordinators for monitoring program design, scoping for volunteer training, utilization of AquaQAPP and WQX, and data analysis.
4. A web-based reporting tool (EcoHealth Report Card) to present and interpret results of monitoring in the Bays for multiple audiences.
MassBays seeks applicants for the position of Dependent Contractor, a “Circuit Rider” to lead work on program component number 3 above, to be based in Boston but serve all of MassBays’ planning area. This person will provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and their staff on components of quality-assured monitoring programs in near-shore areas. Topics may include: developing monitoring program objectives, selecting suitable sampling sites and water quality parameters, suitable training for volunteers, identifying certified laboratories for sample analysis, statistical data analysis, and data interpretation with reference to program objectives. The Circuit Rider will also organize and recruit attendees to regional training workshops for program coordinators focused on the online AquaQAPP application in October 2019, as well as a second set of workshops (March 2020) to introduce utilization of WQX.
Seacoast Science Center began working with Dr. Gabriela Bradt, NH Sea Grant Fisheries Extension Specialist, in 2018 to collect intertidal data on the nefarious invasive Carcinus maenus. The NH Green Crab Project began as a pilot project in 2015 to determine whether soft-shell green crabs could be a viable seafood product in the state. The European green crab (Carcinas maenas) is a non-native crustacean that invaded the US Northeast region from Europe in the early 1800’s. Since then, these invasive crabs have firmly established themselves and have spread from Cape Cod to Prince Edward Island, Canada, destroying economically important wild harvest fisheries (soft-shell clams) and vitally important coastal and estuarine ecosystems. The initial goals of the NH Green Crab Project was to detect a visible morphological molting sign that would help fishers identify crabs that were about to ‘bust’ out of their old shell and become temporarily soft -which was the desired edible product- similar to the popular and lucrative soft-shell blue crab industry in the southern United States. While researching molting cues, it became clear that in order to develop a market, there also needed to be a potential fishery for these crabs and the idea for finding large aggregations of pre-molt crabs spatially and temporally in New Hampshire gave rise to the citizen science monitoring component of this endeavor. The Great Green Crab Hunt is a multi-faceted approach to engage citizens through interactive field data collection to better understand when and where these crabs begin the molting season and in large numbers. The data collected by participating citizens then gets uploaded to an online map that updates in real time and shows where potential green crab ‘hotspots’ are located. Other data collected such as sex, shell hardness, color and size also contribute to a better understanding of the seasonal molting patterns and overall green crab population ecology. The NH Green Crab Project has successfully molted and produced soft-shell crabs and provided them to local restaurants to begin market development, and the Great Green Crab Hunts, which began in 2018, have already engaged 150 citizens (all ages) and several ‘hotspots’ are beginning to emerge- Peirce Island (Portsmouth), Goat Island (New Castle), Drowned Forest Beach (Odiorne) and Cedar Point (Dover).
Seek by iNaturalist is a fun, safe way to engage kids and beginners in exploring local biodiversity with an interface half way between game and citizen science. Seek does not collect, use, or disclose personal information. Geo location is blurred so exact location of street name, even city is not identifiable. It also does not generate or share information with iNaturalist, but it does get information from iNaturalist. If you merely want to explore biodiversity nearby, it is a great way to learn about what you are seeing or what others have seen nearby.
To use the app, you simply take photos of the plants, animals, and fungi you encounter. When starting there is a friendly reminder to be safe while gathering your photos. To reward you and make it fun, there are many badges to earn. There is a series of badges for number of observations, and then badges for your first, fifth, and twenty-fifth observation of 9 different taxa. The app keeps count of what you’ve seen, how many species, and how many badges you have. The badges are the game part of it and encourage users to look for a variety of life.
The app uses the image recognition technology of iNaturalist. Once you take a picture, the app recognizes the species and adds it to your collection. A big drawback is that if the picture you take is not recognized, there is no way for you to enter it. Each species that is in your collection or that has been seen nearby will show up as a tile. Clicking on the tile will open more information on the species: common and scientific name, taxon, map, a graph of when sightings have been recorded, a blurb from wikipedia, and an observation count from iNaturalist. For example, I’ve shown below the Eastern Gray Squirrel information.
This app seems to be a way for iNaturalist to improve its image recognition capability and a way for novices and students to have fun learning about what else is living around them. It is currently only available on iOS devices, hopefully beta tests will soon be complete for Android.
by Jordan Marino and Val Perini, Northeastern University Marine Science Center
On November 15th & 16th the New England Ocean Science Collaborative (NEOSEC) hosted the seventh biennial Ocean Literacy Summit, at Northeastern University and UMass Boston. The Summit planning team, composed of marine scientists, educators, and ocean literacy leaders in New England, put together a two-day program that followed the theme of Ocean Literacy Principle 2: the ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth. Through presentations, lightning talks, and demonstrations, people came together to share best practices to promote ocean literacy by making marine science more accessible to public audiences. This year also included a special focus on creativity and science and using art and other non-traditional methods of science communication.
The event started with a splash on Thursday with morning workshops at Northeastern University in Boston, afternoon field trips hosted by local NEOSEC partner organizations, and an evening Science Café at the Boston Winery. The four workshops included topics of advancing ocean literacy with technology, using creativity and art to promote science communication, using citizen science to engage the public in ocean research, and an introduction to the Ocean Literacy Framework and its development. Each workshop started with presentations and introductions from a panel of presenters, followed by time for participants to ask questions, try out activities, and explore resources related to each topic. Workshop spaces were a buzz as attendees met presenters and colleagues, brainstorming about how to apply these resources to their work.
Diana Payne from Connecticut Sea Grant, and Sarah Schoedinger from NOAA Office of Education, led the workshop titled, “Ocean Literacy 101: How the Concept of What Everyone Should Know About the Ocean Changed the World”. Diana and Sarah, who contributed to the development of the Ocean Literacy Principles, discussed their conception, and how they have evolved to be included in education standards across the world. The National Science Education Standards have little content on marine science and with this void in mind, the goal of the Ocean Literacy Principles was to provide a framework for integrating ocean literacy into science education.
After field trips, participants made their way to the Boston Winery, for some evening libations, pizza, and conversation. After an entertaining and informative tour by the grandson of the Winery’s founder, participants were treated to three short talks on living shorelines and coastal resilience in Boston. Local scientists, engineers, and landscape architects gave an overview of local work they are doing to prepare Massachusetts for sea level rise. Three chapters of NMEA sponsored the science café: Southeastern New England Marine
Educators (SENEME), Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME), and Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association (GOMMEA). Each brought materials to share with attendees. Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management also shared valuable resources they’ve developed to help youth and the public better understand threats facing coastal habitats, and the path towards a more resilient coastline.
On day two of the Summit at UMass Boston, Jeff Donnelly, Senior Scientist and Director at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, kicked off the morning with the Keynote Address discussing his research on hurricane effects on coastal landforms and ecosystems. He shared how hurricanes have evolved over time, and what changes may come in the future. The keynote address was followed by a panel on Sea Level Rise, with a diverse group of panelists who fielded questions from education and outreach, to weather and climate change action plans. They provided several ways to educate the public on sea level rise, and how to stay optimistic about the future. There was a great conversation amongst audience members on successes and challenges of communicating climate change with the public.
The rest of the day included a science and education fair with hands-on demonstrations and activities, exhibitors of various organizations, lightning talks, and concurrent sessions.
At the science and education fair, a diversity of presenters showcased hands-on classroom activities, from oceanographic monitoring with drifters, to exploring erosion with model “coastlines” in paint trays. The concurrent sessions paired a scientist and educator to share their expertise on a variety of topics from earth’s recent geologic history, to the influence of ocean life on landforms, to seaweed art.
Just when folks might be feeling an afternoon slump, the learning and fun continued with a marine trivia hour over drinks and snacks, hosted by Edgar B. Herwick III from the WGBH Curiosity Desk. Teams wracked their brains through several rounds of tough questions and after an extremely close competition, team Nudi but Nice clinched the win by only ½ a point!
The Summit concluded with a marine art show: educators and artists showed and sold their art, inspired by their work with the ocean. Artwork ranged from photography, paintings, knit marine animals, algae pressings, and even pottery made with the shimmering purple sands found on local beaches.
A grants administrator, a graphic designer, and a communications strategist walk into a room . . . and talk about how they use graphic design to share information with their constituents. The backgrounds are vastly different, but each person uses graphic design to assist with their outreach efforts. Join the next NEOSEC Café on October 12 to learn how the panelists do their work. You’ll leave with a list of resources (some free!) that will help you incorporate graphic design in your communications.
Sam Andrews, Deputy CFO, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
Sean Silva, Graphic Designer, Buttonwood Park Zoo
Elaine Brewer, Outreach Specialist, MassWildlife
Time: Oct 12, 2018 1:00 PM Eastern Time
Join the Massachusetts Marine Educators for our annual Boston Harbor Educator Conference on September 29, 2018 at UMass Boston. The theme will be “Our New Boston Harbor Shoreline.” Conference will include exciting speakers, hands-on workshops, a panel discussion and an afternoon cruise to the Boston Harbor Islands! Our keynote speaker will be Frederick A. Laskey, Executive Director, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
This year’s workshop topics include coastal storms, sea level rise, ocean acidification, stormwater, North Atlantic right whales, sturgeon conservation, and seashells as versatile teaching tools.
by Mary Ellen Mateleska, Director of Education & Conservation at the Mystic Aquarium
Nestled between the tree-lined streets of Stonington Borough and the rolling waves of the Sound lies the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve; a tract of land with a rich history and an even richer biodiversity. On any given day, visitors walking the path along the edge of the Preserve may see elementary school students participating in a lesson on Long Island Sound while searching for crabs and snails along the rocky shore, artists with their easels painting the breathtaking views of the historic homes among the backdrop of the salt marsh, or hear a chorus of song birds flying through the grassland hunting for their afternoon meal. Over the last few decades the introduction of invasive plant species and the aftermath damage of strong storms have left the Preserve in need of some work to restore native plants and prepare this area for future climate related challenges. In January 2015 Mystic Aquarium and Avalonia Land Conservancy, under the guidance of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, began a collaboration to restore the 2.6 acres of coastal marsh and grassland habitats by engaging volunteers in on the ground stewardship activities.
Located in the Stonington Borough section of Stonington, Connecticut, the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve, owned by Avalonia Land Conservancy, is the last publicly accessible green space in this coastal area that is a very popular tourism destination. The eastern boundary of the Preserve faces Little Narragansett Bay and overlooks Sandy Point Preserve and is comprised of several habitat zones including dunes, coastal grasslands, and a tidal wetland area. In addition to boasting precious resources of significance to the health of Long Island Sound, the site’s former role as a stoneware kiln in the 1800s marks it an important historic preservation site. Pieces of pottery can still be found strewn around the area and finer works are preserved at a nearby museum. Today, the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve is open to the public for passive recreational activities (motor vehicles, bicycles, horses, and hunting prohibited); a dedicated corps of Avalonia volunteers work year-round to ensure that boundary signage is in place and that hiking trails are maintained.
As with many sites in the Long Island Sound watershed, the Preserve has faced natural and anthropogenic challenges to its health. These threats are most evident in tidal areas of the Preserve, which encompasses grassy marsh habitat, tidal pools, gravel and sand pockets and rock outcrops. This area provides critical feeding and roosting areas for migratory birds including cormorants, geese and ducks, shorebirds, egrets, and herons. Despite past projects to allow upland storm water drainage and to restore tidal exchange in the marsh, surface water failed to drain from the marsh and the highest tides did not fully recede. What was intended to be a tidal system with some level of tidal exchange turned into a system with intermittent depressions of stagnant water. This restriction of tidal circulation promoted Phragmites growth which dominated much of the marsh. The loss of regular tidal flow and stagnant conditions also produce unbearable numbers of mosquitoes, which necessitates several pesticide applications per season. The mosquitoes created a nuisance and potential disease vector to the surrounding neighborhood and to preserve visitors, thereby lowering their quality of life and creating a public health hazard. Complicating the already challenging conditions at the Preserve, in 2012 Superstorm Sandy overtopped the dune, which pushed sand and gravel into the marsh. The sand covered marsh vegetation and partially filled a drainage channel, bringing with it flooding, debris deposits, erosion, and a decreased ability to serve as a buffer from land-based runoff. In summation, there was a great need to restore balance to this system.
In an effort to prepare the site for future restoration and mitigate the mosquito infestation, CT DEEP’s Wetlands Habitat and Mosquito Management Program (WHAMM) worked to open a new drainage area, eradicate invasive Phragmites, and create channels for better flow of floodwaters. The result of this intensive work was a coastal wetland area that was primed for the replanting of native marsh plants.
Both, Avalonia Land Conservancy and Mystic Aquarium, share a mission to inspire the community to protect and conserve our natural resources through direct hands-on stewardship actions. This project was recognized by both organizations as an ideal opportunity to educate the community on coastal resiliency in light of rising sea levels due to climate change and the potential for increased storms. “Using a climate adaptive planting plan and engaging the community in a shared vision of coastal stewardship makes this project a model for how people can join us in fulfilling our conservation based missions” explained Beth Sullivan, Avalonia Land Conservancy Stonington Committee Chair. Using their breadth and depth of resources – including a robust education and conservation department – Mystic Aquarium is leading this charge with a goal of engaging up to 2,800 volunteer hours in the restoration of the Preserve. Beth Sullivan adds “Community participation in the restoration of the Preserve will not only encourage the community to be part of something big but will also instill a greater sense of ownership of this local treasure.”
Since its onset, there has been overwhelming support for this project. Stonington Borough neighbors offered water supplies to cultivate the growth of new plants and college students conducted soil tests to assist with the selection of appropriate plants for each habitat. As of September 2015, more than 170 volunteers participated in the first planting season. High school students from the Marine Science Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut in Groton and college students from Mitchell and Connecticut Colleges in New London prepared the site by removing Phragmites and other debris while groups of volunteers participated in the planting of grass plugs and native shrubs. Although there is still much work scheduled to be accomplished before the completion of the grant period, the success of this community effort is evident with an increase in the presence of both marsh flora and fauna.
By using a climate adaptive planting plan to accommodate for climate change effects including saltwater intrusion and extreme precipitation, while engaging the community through stewardship initiatives, this project could serve as a model for regional coastal communities. It seeks to “rebalance the system” by restoring and protecting habitats for the species that rely on this site, but also ensures optimal health and balance for the last public green space available in Stonington Borough. Public visitors can enjoy having access to the site as they learn about and gain a sense of appreciation for the Sound well into the future.
Somewhere between Portugal and Wales, West sprung a leak in its hull. Don’t worry. West is an unmanned 5′ sailboat originally launched from Maine, recovered in Portugal two years later, restored, relaunched and found, again, in Wales. Portuguese messages stored in the hull were dried, digitized and shared with the American students who launched the vessel four years prior. West is one of 80 mini-boats finding their way around the global oceans. These mini-boats are part of the Global Ocean Literacy Program developed through educationalpassages.com. Learn more by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOAA’s Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) and Connecticut Sea Grant are collaborating with Federal, State and NGO partners to convene a climate science and education workshop for formal and informal educators. Participants will learn from and interact with climate science, education and communication experts. The workshop will focus on topics of climate science and resilience strategies for the northeast region of the United States, with a goal of connecting educators and their students and/or audiences to the best available science-based information and pedagogic resources.
Registration for the workshop is on a first come first serve basis and the number of participants is very limited! When enrollment has reached capacity, online registration will be closed. Registration is $40 per person. It includes daily lunch, snacks, field trips, and a plethora of resources! Attendees are responsible for arranging their own transportation and lodging.
To register for the workshop you must fully complete the online formand send a check or purchase order to: Connecticut Sea Grant – Climate Workshop, 1080 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, CT 06340.
You will receive an email confirming your participation in the workshop only when your registration fee has been processed. A detailed workshop itinerary, lodging and dining recommendations, and additional information will be sent to all confirmed registrants well in advance of the workshop.
All attendees will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in the workshop as well as the number of professional development hours earned.
For more info re: the overall workshop, contact Diana Payne at: email@example.com. phone: 860.405.9248
Lunch and snacks will be provided during the workshop.
Participants must make their own travel and overnight arrangements. Lodging and dining recommendations and additional information, will be sent to all confirmed registrants well in advance of the workshop.