Paddle Your Way Into Citizen Science

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Citizen science is scientific research conducted by non-professional scientists. Usually community-driven, it is the involvement of the public in scientific research, and a partnership between everyday people and the larger scientific community. The whole idea of citizen science is that there is no scientific training required! Slow-moving, quiet paddling vessels can make it easy to collect data for certain citizen science projects by accessing remote areas and not disturbing wildlife.

Here are few paddle-based citizen science projects you can get involved in locally:

The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project (University of Florida) - Volunteer citizens collect coastal water samples, filtering them and looking for microplastics.

The Christmas Bird Count (The National Audubon Society) - This project is the longest running citizen science project in the world! Every December 14th through January 5th, avid bird watchers spend mornings counting every bird they see. Scientists use the resulting data to understand long-term population dynamics and habitat requirements.

Horseshoe Crab Nesting Monitoring (The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) - Horseshoe crab populations have recently declined from habitat destruction and over-harvesting, and local volunteers are encouraged to report horseshoe crab mating to biologists throughout the year.

Citizen science is important because researchers can’t be everywhere at once to collect data themselves. If you are out on the water and want to help with these projects, please visit the project websites to learn more. We encourage you to get involved in research projects that can have lasting positive effects on our waters.

Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.