Empowering the Next Generation of Citizen Scientists

“Learning out of a textbook is one thing, but the opportunity to experience the real-world application of such knowledge is invaluable during high school.” -Delaney, High School student

Over the past five years, the fishing vessel Western Pride has become a familiar sight as it anchors just offshore from the Crystal Cove Historic District. But this boat is not visiting Crystal Cove to fish. Instead, it is bringing student citizen scientists to the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area so that they can help to monitor Crystal Cove’s underwater park!

Crystal Cove Alliance’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise, run in partnership with Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing Sportfishing, immerses thousands of students from all over Southern California in real conservation research each year.  Classes take to the seas in order to monitor offshore trends in the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area, using scientific equipment such as underwater cameras and plankton nets to collect data on fish populations, plankton species, and water quality.

This fintastic program has continued to grow, with over 2,200 students joining us on the water this year alone: the highest of any year so far!  Many of these students come from underserved Title 1 schools, and their trip on the Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise is often their first opportunity to experience California’s coast.

“This field trip not only fueled my love for the ocean, it also increased my curiosity in marine life and the ocean’s ecosystem.” -Raziel, High School student

Student data is shared with UC Irvine researchers and Crystal Cove State Park natural resource managers, who use it to make decisions about the best way to manage the State Marine Conservation Area. Through this experience, students meaningfully contribute to current research while also establishing a connection with the offshore ecosystem, becoming both scientist and steward.

Utilizing so many citizen scientists allows researchers to monitor our local environment more frequently and robustly than would otherwise be possible.  Many of the trips are made possible through scholarship funding provided by the annual Fund-a-Need program at Crystal Cove Alliance’s Soiree, which underwrites bus and boat costs for underserved schools.

We especially want to thank each donor that helped fund our school programs!

Sandra and Ray Wirta. Laura Davick. Wylie & Bette Aitken. Harley & Lori Bassman. Ed & Angela Grasso. Bonnie Gregory. Julie Vint. Christine Carr. John & Susan Garcia. Stephanie & Ken Grody. Hilary Kaye & Layne Ballard. Jennifer Steele. Teddie Ray. Leslie & Terry Adams. Al Bennett & Rudi Berkelhamer. Jeff & Paula Cole. Diana & Gareth Evans. Kristine Floyd. Tim & Patty Fogarty. Paul & Patti Gallagher. Dan & Rosalie Gee. Ralph Grippo. Jane & Joe Hanauer. Tom & Lisa Harrison. Debbie Lewis. Lisa & Josh Martin. Keith & Mara Murray. Mary & Jon Nord. Tim & Beth Shields. Mitchell Sussman. Jerry & Doniel Sutton. Susan & Tom Tomlinson. Jamie Welsh. Tammy Wong.

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