Citizen Science

“Amazing is the only way I could explain it.” That’s the review from a student participant in Citizen Science, one of the many Aquarium outreach programs that exists with your support. This hands-on, inquiry-based marine science education program is designed to stimulate science inquiry in historically underrepresented high school students in the Puget Sound area.

In 2016, the program completed its tenth year with approximately 440 students and 14 teachers from 13 schools collecting nearshore monitoring datasets on 14 local beaches. These datasets are available to and used by governmental and environmental agencies including Washington State Parks and the City of Seattle. Said one teacher, “The program provides valuable real-world experience with science—there is no substitute for it that would be possible in the classroom. It definitely helped me achieve my goal of getting the students familiar with a real field study and how to conduct one.”

“Citizen Science allowed me to have my first experience with a formal research project in a real-world situation rather than a classroom lab. It increased my interest in pursuing a career in science because I like how we got to get outside to “work.” I am more aware of my surroundings at the beach now; I learned that there are so many more organisms on the beach than I had previously thought, and I feel a more heightened desire to protect the environment in order to preserve these organisms. Sticking with the long-term project taught me to persevere and motivated me to pursue answers to my questions.”

—2016 Citizen Science student participant

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Part 6: Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium biologist Carol Jackson

Hardy is living up to his name! He is doing great and no longer requires formula from a bottle—he’s graduated to a diet of solid food including clams, squid and pollock fillets and now weighs 20.7 pounds (9.42 kgs). During my shift, his last meal of the day was at 7:30pm.

This was the last week of evening feeds for Hardy, and from this point forward he will eat during the day at the same times the adult sea otters. He gets several buckets of ice during the day and plenty of toys to keep him busy in between naps.

He had a blood test today to access his health. His coat looks great—he’s doing a great job with self-grooming. What a handsome animal!

We at the Seattle Aquarium really enjoy collaborating with other institutions toward common conservation goals—it’s so important to work together for continued learning opportunities and public engagement. Thank you, Vancouver Aquarium!

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Gills Club: girls getting smart about sharks

With help from you, the Seattle Aquarium is now actively connecting young girls with female scientists via the newly launched Gills Club, a STEM-based education initiative developed by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

Combating the notion that “only boys like sharks,” the effort is targeted at girls ages 6–12, who learn about the work and research of female scientists from around the world during activity-filled meetings. The goal? To inspire shark and ocean conservation, and provide a powerful reminder that careers in marine science are for everyone.

Says Marine Science Interpreter Melody Upton,  “The really great thing about Gills Club is how we are trying to connect young girls to not only science in general but to female scientists, and helping them learn more about sharks with the hopes of inspiring shark and ocean conservation. It’s been incredible to help support young girls be involved in the shark science field and empower them to live every week like it’s Shark Week!”

Q & A: Gills Club

A conversation between Marine Science Interpreter Melody Upton, Gills Club member Grace (age 6), and Grace’s mom, Michelle.

Melody: What are some of your favorite things about Gills Club?

Grace: It’s cool. We get to learn about sharks and things that we might have never ever known. It’s really fun!

Michelle: Grace is interested in becoming a wildlife veterinarian so anything to do with animals and science is perfect for her. The girls really get a chance to independently learn, and I like that.

Melody: What’s one thing you’ve learned at Gills Club?

Grace: When you are looking on the underside of a shark, if there are two sets of under fins then it’s a boy, and if wasn’t, it’s a girl.

Michelle: A shark has a very large liver in order to control its buoyancy.

Melody: What do you think about sharks, Grace?

Grace: We need them because they are important to the food chain. Some sharks are really cool because they can glow or they don’t eat meat. Like lantern sharks and whale sharks.

Registration for the October 29 Gills Club meeting is now open! Visit our website to register.

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Seattle Aquarium youth philanthropy team awards $5k to conservation projects

Youth Ocean Advocates

Each year, the Seattle Aquarium’s youth philanthropy team, composed of teens from its Youth Ocean Advocates (YOA) volunteer program, grants at least $5,000 to organizations pursuing work in line with the Aquarium’s mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment. The grants are funded with money raised at the Aquarium’s face-painting booth, which is staffed by teen volunteers.

The five members of the youth philanthropy team met three times to discuss the organizations and causes worthy of funding this year. In the process, they learned about nonprofits, funding structures, giving practices, and how to research organizations. Staff grant writer Adrienne Fox supported the group, graciously sharing her expertise on grant writing and philanthropy.

For this year’s awards, the teens chose projects focused restoring habitat, protecting endangered species, or addressing plastics pollution. The group researched organizations doing work in these realms of conservation and selected four organizations/projects to receive gifts of $1,250 each.

  • Puget Sound Restoration Fund’s Olympia oyster restoration project
  • Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire’s work planting coral trees in the Caribbean
  • SeaShepherd’s work to save the vaquita
  • Surfrider Foundation’s “Rise Above Plastic” campaign

The youth volunteers believed the four projects align with their own work as ocean advocates.

Since 2013, Youth Ocean Advocates have donated $32,200 to conservation causes around the world.

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Part 5: Seattle Aquarium assists with Hardy, the rescued sea otter

Guest post by Seattle Aquarium biologist Julie Carpenter

Hardy is now in his eleventh week at the Vancouver Aquarium and continues to hit milestones! He is growing quickly and becoming quite independent. He weighs about 21 pounds (9.5 kg) and readily eats about a quarter of his body weight each day in clam, squid and pollock fish fillets. He continues to receive bottles of special formula mixed with seafood each day, but is requiring fewer bottles now that he’s eating so much solid food. He continues to play with enrichment toys and ice and is very active when not napping.

Hardy plays with enrichment.

This week he spent most of his time on exhibit, including nights! He’s become a proficient diver and can be seen checking out every inch of his underwater habitat. One of his biggest milestones is his ability to care for his fur without help. He can groom his entire coat on his own, which involves a lot of rubbing and licking of his fur to keep it clean so it will wick water away and keep his skin remains dry—no easy task for a pup. Sea otter mothers care for their pups’ fur in the wild until they can do it on their own. Hardy’s caregivers are there to assist with grooming if needed, but he’s doing an outstanding job.

Hardy naps on ice following a long afternoon of play.


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