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LiMPETS: Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students

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1 Author(s)
Osborn, D.A. ; Center for Ocean Health, California Univ., Santa Cruz, CA, USA

We have developed a program for middle school, high schools and other volunteer groups to monitor rocky intertidal, sandy beach and offshore areas of the five west coast National Marine Sanctuaries - Olympic Coast, Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay and Channel Islands. LiMPETS, Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students, is a collaborative monitoring effort with staff from the five west coast marine Sanctuaries partnering with the California Sea Grant Program, the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, and University of California, Santa Cruz researchers. The intertidal and offshore habitats of the west coast Sanctuaries are among the most diverse and productive of any region in the world. Despite their ecological significance and protected status, these habitats, along with sandy beaches, are being increasingly impacted by human activities (directly by harvesting and trampling, indirectly through pollution and litter). In addition, there are dramatic geological and climatic disruptions along Sanctuary shores (earthquakes, severe storms, El Nino events, global warming) that could generate change in the biota. Awareness by the local communities of these phenomena and how they influence these habitats and their inhabitants is vital if these ecosystems are to continue receiving the protection they deserve. The Sanctuaries and partners are establishing a rigorous program to monitor the abundance and distribution of major intertidal biota, sand crabs, and selected offshore species to increase awareness and stewardship of these ecosystems. Protocols to monitor rocky intertidal, sandy beach and offshore areas have been established and used by numerous school groups to date. There are various procedures used to collect data, including but not limited to transects, random quadrat counts, total organism counts, sex determination and size measurements. Several sites are selected within each Sanctuary for the rocky intertidal and sand- > - > y shore monitoring. Species were chosen to be monitored if they had certain characteristics, namely: 1. Ecological importance, 2. Easily recognized, studied and identified in the field, 3. Sensitivity to disturbance, pollution or environmental changes. Data are collected so that long-term changes can be followed by interested groups working with the Sanctuaries' education staff. Protocols, species, site descriptions, directions and more are currently posted on the web. All of the information in the LiMPETS website is public and free to be used. However, please credit the National Marine Sanctuary Program when information or photographs are used by other websites or in publications.

Published in:

OCEANS 2003. Proceedings  (Volume:4 )

Date of Conference:

22-26 Sept. 2003