More than half of fish species in region documented by volunteer divers, including a new species —

A whole bunch of fish species dwell within the Salish Sea, and plenty of face quite a lot of threats. Monitoring the well being of those fish populations is essential. However with almost 5,000 miles of shoreline and greater than 400 islands, it is no small job.

Traditionally, monitoring fish populations has included fishery catch information, lively trawl surveys, underwater video, satellite tv for pc imagery, hydroacoustics and extra. However citizen scientists are more and more taking part in essential roles, in keeping with a examine from the College of California, Davis.

The examine, printed within the journal Environmental Monitoring and Evaluation, revealed that in simply over twenty years, volunteers with Reef Environmental Schooling Basis (REEF)’s Volunteer Fish Survey Mission helped monitor greater than half of the entire fish species identified to happen within the Salish Sea.

The examine discovered that the challenge’s surveyors additionally expanded the identified vary of a number of species inside the ecosystem and documented the presence of a fish species not beforehand identified to happen within the Salish Sea — the striped kelpfish (Gibbonsia metzi). This brings the entire variety of fish species identified to make use of the Salish Sea to 261.

The analysis was led by SeaDoc Society, a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Well being Middle on the UC Davis Faculty of Veterinary Drugs. SeaDoc has partnered with REEF for nearly twenty years to assist practice volunteer divers within the Pacific Northwest.

Citizen scientists survey Salish Sea

REEF is a marine conservation group with a worldwide community of leisure divers and snorkelers who present information to raised perceive standing, traits, and distribution patterns of marine fishes and chosen invertebrates and algae in oceans all over the world. REEF citizen scientists have been surveying the Salish Sea since 1998. The area encompasses Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and the waters off of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The examine was additionally knowledgeable by a listing of species printed by fisheries biologists Theodore Pietsch and James Orr.

“I had a lot enjoyable exploring the REEF database and printed compilation of Salish Sea fishes,” mentioned lead creator Elizabeth Ashley, a UC Davis analysis assistant with SeaDoc Society. “This examine highlights that the unimaginable biodiversity of the Salish Sea deserves using a various set of instruments, wielded by each skilled and citizen scientists, to completely perceive and shield these fishes.”

Ashley and her co-authors in contrast information from 13,000 REEF surveys collected from about 800 websites within the Salish Sea over 21 years (1998-2019). Volunteers noticed 138 of 261 acknowledged fish species within the Salish Sea and expanded the vary of 18 species, which means they have been noticed in an space the place they beforehand had not been documented to exist.

Not all fish species have an equal probability of being noticed by a scuba diver. Some may dwell a whole bunch of toes deep, expertly cover themselves, or solely not often enterprise into the Salish Sea. The authors took this into consideration and categorized every fish primarily based on its potential for encounter by a diver.

REEF divers sighted 85% of fish species that lend themselves to visible statement. For these fishes, skilled citizen scientists can increase what scientists find out about vary, life historical past, inhabitants standing, dimension, age, habits, and extra.

Citizen science monitoring is just minimally invasive because it depends purely on human statement. Educated divers can doc what they see and enter it into the free worldwide database housed at

“It is thrilling to see that the experience inside our group of citizen scientists has expanded what is thought about fish assemblages of the Salish Sea and yielded a brand new discovery,” mentioned co-author Christy Pattengill-Semmens, REEF’s co-executive director. “Past offering much-needed information that can be utilized by researchers and administration businesses, collaborating in citizen science packages like REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Mission creates an genuine connection to nature and empowers contributors to make a distinction.”

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Supplies supplied by College of California – Davis. Authentic written by Justin Cox. Notice: Content material could also be edited for type and size.