Citizen Science: Shaping the Youth and Understanding our Habitats

By Anais Maurel, Marine Science Intern

I first heard about the LiMPETS program when I was looking for an internship after college and stumbled onto a job posting for a Marine Science Intern. I was immediately drawn to it as I read about the citizen science program that focused on looking at changes in organisms’ population and density at sandy beaches and tidepools of the California Coast. I was ecstatic when I got the call that I got the internship and couldn’t wait to start. My weeks consisted of time out on the field and time in the office, and I’ve learned so much from both.
Being out on the field, I got to see some amazing organisms that I’d never experienced before such as anemones or nudibranchs. But that wasn’t the best part of doing research in the field: working alongside students was by far the most rewarding part. While some of the students were taking AP Biology classes and were obviously interested in research, others seemed slightly indifferent at first. But, by the end of the day, most students were happy and excited to have seen so many cool invertebrates. As I believe that the future of the world belongs to the youth of today, knowing that we had made a difference in how some students viewed science made me hopeful. Hopeful that at least one of them would want a job in the sciences. Hopeful that we taught them that they need to preserve our coast. Hopeful that we shaped their minds to think about nature first.

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While I always had fun on the field, seeing the behind-the-scenes work of a non-profit organization was the highlight of my 5-months internship. I had different tasks to accomplish such as data entry and quality checks, daily social media posts, analyzing the database for interesting trends, and writing reports, but all this work was nothing compared to the work the rest of the LiMPETS team has to do. It really opened my eyes to see that leading a program takes more than planning visits to our field sites: it takes coordination with the teachers and other offices down the California coast, daily calls and meetings, updating the curriculum and implementing better practices, exploring grants possibilities in order to get funding, and excellent organization skills. Every day at the office was different, there was always another exciting task and another skill to learn about.

I couldn’t have asked for a better program to intern with and will be looking forward to the wonderful things the LiMPETS monitoring has planned for the future.

What’s up with the gender distribution?

The mating season of the Pacific sand crab occurs from February to October. The female sand crabs are able to produce up to 45,000 eggs and carry them on her abdomen. These eggs take about 30 days to develop and after they hatch, the newborn sand crabs drift in the ocean as planktonic larvae for approximately 4.5 months while they go through 8-11 larval stages. Once these small sand crabs return to the shore, they are considered “recruits”. Although recruitment can occur year-round depending on environmental conditions, most recruitment occurs in spring, early summer and again in the fall. Based on the information given in the article, there should have been an abundance of recruits during the September trip to Ocean Beach. However, there were more males and females than there were recruits. According to our school’s data from past trips, this pattern has been the same since 2003.