Help us understand ocean acidification along Washington shores

Want to hit the beach and help us learn how ocean acidification is impacting Washington’s nearshore? Have we got the deal for you!

aamt vols tallDNR is teaming up with Washington Surfrider to give citizen scientists the chance to get involved with ocean acidification research in our waters. With so much shoreline in Washington, DNR is asking citizens to help fill the gaps in our scientific monitoring networks so we can get a better understanding of how changing marine chemistry is impacting our coastal ecosystems.

Ocean Acidification, changes in marine chemistry driven by the sea’s absorption of carbon dioxide, poses particular challenges for Washington, and potential impacts are especially troubling in state-owned aquatic lands, those tidelands and shores where humans interact most with the sea.

Shellfish are especially vulnerable to this problem, as studies show their larvae are most sensitive to changes to marine chemistry.

This is important to Washington, as sales of shellfish from state-owned tidelands generate some $20 million a year for projects to enhance, restore and expand recreational opportunities on Washington’s aquatic lands.

eelgrass chartThat’s why our scientists are working to understand how ocean acidification impacts the chemistry of different locations in Puget Sound and along the coast. We’re also working to understand how eelgrass coverage can counteract acidifying waters; if shellfish larvae like to grow in eelgrass habitat, and if these areas can provide refuge for developing shellfish.

aqr_aamt_anemone_sitemap_550We’ve set up our Acidification Nearshore Monitoring Network, (ANeMoNe) to measure how chemistry changes at different locations affect habitat.

Which is where you come in.

The Aquatic Assessment and Monitoring Team (AAMT) has a lot of work to do and needs help from volunteers. Volunteer opportunities vary in commitment of time and level of scientific detail.

Sensor.JPGSometimes the sensors become covered with sediment and need to be unburied, or are fouled with algae and barnacles that requires removal of the items and cleaning.  The sensor attachment line and floats need to be cleaned of fouling, and the screw anchor and lines need to be checked to insure they are safely secured. During the spring and summer months biological fouling can rapidly occur and cover the sensor probes. During the higher biologically active months of June through October, multiple checks of the ANeMoNe sensor packages are needed.

You can find out if any fit your schedule and base of knowledge at www.dnr.wa.gov/aamtvolunteer. Or contact Washington Surfrider Field Manager Brice Boland if you would like to get involved in monitoring efforts with your local chapter.