Students Present at Prestigious Scientific Conference
LiMPETS students created scientific posters describing their long-term monitoring results and successfully presented their posters at the 2014 AGU (American Geophysical Union) conference.
The Branson School’s Sustainable Seas program created a poster on their Rocky Intertidal data collection at Duxberry Reef. California Academy of Sciences used the LiMPETS Sandy Beach program to train thier Careers In Science interns.
Origin of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Identified
Scientists solved the mystery of a disease that’s been killing millions of sea stars along the Pacific shores of North America. The pathogen responsible for the wide-spread sea star deaths is a virus called the “sea-star associated densovirus.”
To identify the source of the disease, scientists conducted DNA sequencing of viruses in tissue samples of sick and healthy sea stars. Then they tested the suspected viral culprit by injecting it into healthy sea stars in an aquarium. The injected sea stars died within 14 days. The densovirus does not cause the death, but weakens a sea star’s immune system. Susceptible to bacterial infections, a sea star can develop lesions, lose arms, and melt into gelatinous masses.
LiMPETS students, who monitor areas affected by sea star wasting disease, helped inform scientists at UC Santa Cruz to track the extent of the disease in California. The LiMPETS program will now, hopefully, begin to document the recovery of the California sea star population.
Retired teachers give students the opportunity to join LiMPETS
The dream of a retired California State University, Stanislaus, biology professor to send every Turlock schoolchild to see the ocean and learn about sea life is at least partially coming true. Donations from retired educators will send 15 classes from five schools to Monterey this school year.
The kids see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s floating jellyfish, deep-sea exhibits and touchable tidepool tables. In the second part of the trip, they head to the beach to count sand crabs as part of a scientific survey. Videos show kids digging sand and measuring the skittish little crabs with calipers between shrieks and laughs as tiny waves splash their ankles.
“It’s a really wonderful investment,” said retired Modesto Junior College professor Richard Anderson, who with wife Lynn Hansen helped start the field trips. With free admission from Monterey Bay Aquarium, free training and a beach science project through the nonprofit LiMPETS, and parent and community chaperones donating their time, Anderson figures he gets about $7,600 worth of bang for every 1,200 bucks he donates.
Donations to cover busing, the out-of-pocket cost of the trips, have come from friends of retired professor Pam Roe, who for years took her biology classes to Monterey for tide-pool monitoring.
“When Pam Roe retired from Stan State, she said she wanted to send every child in Turlock to the ocean,” Anderson said Friday. “I decided to help her make it happen.”
LiMPETS in Bay Nature
By Sabine Bergmann | August 11, 2014
Presenting at the world’s largest geophysical sciences gathering has become a remarkable commonplace for high school students in a program called “LiMPETS” – Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Learning for Students – which was created in 2002 by the West Coast’s National Marine Sanctuaries as a way to harness the power of citizen science to monitor intertidal and sandy beach ecosystems.After 12 years of study the database contains more than 1,000 surveys with population figures for 34 different types of algae and invertebrates at 70 different monitoring sites. It has engaged more than 4,000 participants in the monitoring effort; 60 percent of them, like Rainsford, are in high school.
And it’s real data, says Dr. John Pearse, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz and president of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. The program has shown the destructive path of sea-star wasting disease and demonstrated positive effects of marine protected areas. Groups in Hawaii, Alaska and Peru have modeled initiatives after it.