Thursday, April 16, 2009

Citizen Scientist

Last night, I became a trained Grunion Greeter. I want to take the kids on a few grunion runs this spring/summer - a late night run to the beach to watch perhaps thousands of fish party on the beach.

Grunions are fish endemic to Southern California and Baja. Each spring, they spawn on beaches by the thousands, a few days after the new and full moons. Females dig their tails into the sand, and the males spawn on the back of the females. The eggs develop in the damp sand, a few inches below the surface. At the next high tide after fertilization, the little fish pop out of their eggs and swim out into the ocean with the tide.

Grunion Greeters are volunteers who check a particular beach at a particular time, and report data to a website. This group of citizen scientists collects data in a fun way that is used for analyses that teach us about grunions, and have impacted coastal policy, such as protocols for cleaning beaches. Some beaches have been raked to clean up kelp and debris, but raking the beach disrupts grunion eggs.

Here is a youtube grunion video:

Other citizen scientist projects that I've heard about are the

Christmas Bird Count
Firefly Watch
Project Budburst

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