LiMPETS monitoring

LiMPETS Field Blog

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.
anemone
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.

Processed with MOLDIV

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.

Oil? Spills? and Crabs? Oh my!

Sarah, Anika, and Marco
Bishop O’Dowd High School

How did the 2007 oil spill in the San Francisco bay affect the population of sand crabs in the area? This question is important because sand crabs are significant to beach ecosystems; they are food for many animals, and they are also an indicator species. This means that scientists and researchers can look at sand crabs to determine the health and sustainability of beaches and other marine ecosystems.

Source: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov

Source: https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov

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Crabtivating Sand Crab Distribution at Playa Del Rey Beach

Cleo, Jerome, Kate, and Gloria
Bishop O’Dowd High School

No need to feel clawstrophobic (or get crabby), there is plenty of room for all the sand crabs on Playa del Rey Beach! So, how has sand crab population changed over time on this Southern Californian beach? This question allows us to further understand the Southern California sand crab population.
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What about the Children?

Sand crabbingGianna, Jack, Peter, and Nathan
Bishop O’Dowd High School

After going on a trip to Ocean Beach in San Francisco and gathering data about the local sand crabs, we wondered how many of them were “recruits,” little crabs which are new to life on the beach. How does this number change over time? Once a recruit settles on a beach, it will spend the rest of its life there. So, a healthy recruit population means that there will be a healthy adult population in the future (unless there is an environmental hazard). As long as there are no environmental hazards or strange weather conditions, the portion of recruits can be used to predict future sand crab growth and decline.
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Battle for the Beach-Crustacean Nation

by Miles, Sophia, and Charlie
Bishop O’Dowd High School

A sharp, cold wind rips across the beach, chilling the shivering O’Dowd students to the core. But there is no room for weakness. The research must be conducted at any cost. As the oceans continue to be examined, the relationship between sand crabs and sanderlings remains unclear. The two species are locked in the age-old, evolutionary battle of predator and prey, but the other aspects of their interactions are unknown. Exploring the correlation between the abundance of sand crabs and the abundance of shorebirds on Ocean Beach is a key component of understanding the beach as a whole. This research is vastly important, as sand crabs act as prey for many species on the sandy beaches, and serve as an indicator species, or a species that serves as a gauge for a habitat’s health.
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Itch for Crabs? (Not those crabs!)

Mole crabby Brian, Somari, and Charles
Bishop O’Dowd High School

Have you ever looked down while at the beach, and seen tiny creatures rolling around, and live in the sand? These tiny creatures are called sand crabs and they are quite paramount to their ecosystem. You may be wondering why sand crabs are so important and it is because they are prey for many animals such as shorebirds and fish. As a species, they can determine whether or not the ecosystem will be healthy. sand crabs make up 80-90% of the intertidal invertebrate biomass. Males and females vary in sizes but the females tend to be larger.
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Little Crabs in a Big Storm

Sand crab in sandby Julia, Olivia, and Thomas
Bishop O’Dowd High School

Emerita analoga, or the common Pacific sand crab, is an small animal with a colossal impact on beach ecosystems. We will examine the population trend in sand crabs over time at ocean beach, and examine
possible environmental factors that could have caused this, specifically El Nino. The sand crab is an indicator species, so examining the health of their population will allow us to examine the health of the sandy beach ecosystem as a whole.

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Sand Crabs? That’s so Raven.

Julian, Lucas, and Lily
Bishop O’Dowd High School

Sand crabs are herbivores and an important food source for other beach organisms, specifically shorebirds. We assumed that if the sand crab population is thriving on a beach, then the shorebird population should be doing well too. We looked at data of sand crabs and shorebirds along the north-central California coast over the course of a year. Our original hypothesis was that if the population of sand crabs was high, then naturally the population of shorebirds would also be high. But, contrary to our hypothesis, a flourishing sand crab population means there are less shorebirds… Continue reading