Archive for the ‘ocean’ tag

The Secchi Dip-In

By July 20th, 2013 at 11:57 am | Comment

Water Testing

Calling all water monitoring groups! It is time for the annual Secchi Dip-In. From now until July 22, volunteer and professional water monitoring groups are being asked to take transparency measurements in a local body of water.

Secchi DiskA secchi disk is a common tool for measuring water turbidity, or water cloudiness. Turbidity is caused by small particles suspended in the water and is a reflection of water quality. To take turbidity measurements, on a calm and bright day the user lowers the disk into the water until the disk is no longer visible. The depth of the disk is used to calculate turbidity. Land erosion from construction or mining, pollution run-off or increases in algae all lead to higher turbidity.

Started in 1994 at Kent State University, Ohio, the Dip-In always takes place during the first few weeks of July. Participants only have to take one transparency per body of water with their secchi disk. The project helpfully provides links for purchasing disks if you do not already have one.

While project organizers prefer that measurements are taken during the “official” dip-in period, participants are welcome to add data from anytime of the year as well as past years. Currently over 2,000 water bodies are being tracked, most of which are in North America. The data are accessible to anybody interested.

In addition to transparency measurements, participants are asked to give their general impressions of the water quality as well as the area’s general aesthetics and recreational properties. These qualitative data help project researchers ascertain the potential sources affecting water quality.

To learning more or to participate, visit  Secchi Dip-In.


Find other environmental projects (and over 600+ other citizen science projects) using our Project Finder.


Dr. Carolyn Graybeal earned her PhD in neuroscience from Brown University in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. After graduating, she became a Christian Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the National Academies of Science where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the policy side of science. In addition the human brain, she is interested in the influence of education and mass media in society’s understanding of science. Originally from California, she is learning to identify the four seasons of the East Coast and is getting pretty good at it.

Tracking the Wild Horseshoe Crabs of New York

By August 23rd, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Comment

Spawning horseshoe crabs (photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Spawning horseshoe crabs (photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service)

On June 1, 2011 at 11:51 PM, a group of people assembled on the beach in Northpoint, New York. There was no moon shining that night, not even a sliver. The people carried flashlights or wore headlamps. They held clipboards and paper.

Their mission: to report where horseshoe crabs were spotted along the beach.

This was just one of several places along New York’s shoreline where people collect data about horseshoe crabs. Volunteers also amassed on dark beaches in Stony Brook, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Westhampton. In all, volunteers monitored the comings and goings of horseshoe crabs at ten New York beaches that night.

They are a part of the New York Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Network, a group of citizen scientists who are documenting where horseshoe crabs emerge from the water to lay eggs along beaches in New York State.  On specific dates through the spring and early summer, participants collect data about the number of horseshoe crabs and identify their size and sex. They attach tags to the horseshoe crabs bulky exoskeleton and look for tags from prior years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Start spotting sharks for science!

By June 29th, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Comment

Snap a photo of a whale shark and help scientists! Photo: Zac Wolf via Wikipedia

Snap a photo of a whale shark and help scientists! Photo: Zac Wolf via Wikipedia

Da-dum … da-dum …

Don’t look now, but there are  researchers hoping you’ll hop in shark-infested waters in the name of science!

Members of ECOCEAN want your help photographing whale sharks on your next ocean outing. Your pictures will be uploaded to the ECOCEAN Whale Shark Photo-identification Library, a photographic database of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) sightings.

Marine biologists will use your photographs to identify whale sharks and keep a record of interactions with individual sharks. Similar to how images of fingerprints can identify specific humans, photographs of whale sharks’ skin patterning, gills, and scars, combined with state-of-the-art pattern-recognition algorithms, allow scientists recognize specific sharks across multiple encounters.

If you’re keen to help out, hop off the boat this summer and submit whale shark photos and sighting information. You will be helping scientists and assisting in the conservation of a threatened species. Not a bad way to spend a summer vacation! Read the rest of this entry »

Tracking Jellyfish around the globe

By March 28th, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Comment

Jellyfish, in addition to being one of many ocean creatures that terrify me, are an important part of the underwater ecosystem. However, several reports have indicated an unusually high increase in Jellyfish populations, and scientists are in need of help to understand why.

Enter JellyWatch, a new citizen science project that aims to create a database of jellyfish sightings across the globe. Have you seen a Jellyfish on a family vacation or on your yearly deep-sea fishing trip? Snap a picture if you can, and visit JellyWatch to record your sighting.

If you went to the beach but didn’t see any jellyfish, that data can be used as well. And, the study is looking at more than just jellyfish — sightings of red tide, squid, or other unusual marine life will help build a long-term database that can be accessed and further developed by schools, policy makers, and the general public.

Curious how it works? Visit the list of sightings and see what other people have contributed.

With summer approaching, you should have plenty of opportunities to go JellyWatching. If you end up contributing to JellyWatch, let us know about your experiences by posting on your very own Science for Citizens Member Blog. We’d love to know how it went.

Happy JellyWatching!