Know Your Ocean: Can a non-scientist do science? Global and local community science projects on Maui
Can a non-scientist do science? Global and local community science projects on Maui
MA’ALAEA, MAUI — Increasingly, scientists are asking for the public’s help to understand a wide range of topics from earthquakes to water quality to where animals live and more. Learn more about community or “citizen” science and how you can contribute to aiding conservation work in particular, at a free Zoom presentation on Wednesday, April 6 at 5:30 pm. This free event is hosted by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council as part of its Know Your Ocean Speaker Series with support from the County of Maui Office of Sustainability and Climate Resilience.
Through presentations by guest speakers Dr. Mark Deakos, Cheryl King, John Starmer, and Jennifer Vander Veur, you’ll be introduced to some global citizen science projects that are relevant to Maui and hear about some long-running community science projects taking place in Maui County that are seeking volunteers.
“If you want to make a difference in understanding the effects of climate change, protect native habitats and the species they rely on, or simply become more aware of the world around you, citizen science is a great way to get involved and make a difference,” notes John Starmer, Chief Scientist at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and Volunteer Coordinator at City Nature Challenge (CNC) on Maui.
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a Maui-based nonprofit that relies upon citizen volunteers for its Hui O Ka Wai Ola ocean water quality monitoring program at 29 locations along Maui’s shores.
Starmer is the Maui Coordinator for City Nature Challenge. Started in 2016 as a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has grown into an international event, motivating people around the world to find and document wildlife in their cities. The challenge is organized by Community Science teams at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and occurs during a four-day period. From April 29 to May 2, participants take photos of wild plants and animals. From May 3 to May 8, participants identified what was found. During this friendly competition, the winner is the city that gathers the most observations of nature, finds the most species, and engages the most people in the event.
“Because our urban areas are a bit smaller than most cities (like San Francisco or Hong Kong), our Maui team decided to aggregate the whole island (plus Molokini Crater) for the purpose of the challenge,” says Starmer.
Dr. Mark Deakos is the Founder, President, and Chief Scientist of the Hawai‘i Association for Marine Education and Research (HAMER). Mark will be focusing on his manta ray photo-identification catalog of over 600 individuals.
Cheryl King will be summarizing information about two of her citizen scientist-related projects: SHARKastics (marine debris research and cleanups) and Hawaiian Hawksbill Conservation (the statewide in-water photo-identification catalog for critically endangered Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtles from 1998-present). She’s also a Seabird Biology Technician with the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project, so will be presenting potential volunteer opportunities with seabirds and colony restoration.
“There are so many wonderful, diverse ways to get involved in helping our precious natural resources and habitats of Maui Nui, so we hope to inspire a new batch of volunteers to join the critical work that’s being done all around Maui every day,” says King.
Jennifer Vander Veur is the Senior Program Manager of the Coral Reef Alliance of Maui Nui. “We are proud to support a dedicated team of local volunteers in Maui, Hawai’i, as they work to protect the valuable coral reefs in their community,” says Vander Veur. Her program works with volunteers who grow and plant native vegetation at key locations near coastal streams, which act as natural barriers and trap sediment runoff before it reaches the ocean and coral reefs.
“Getting the public involved in science projects allows scientists to take on projects that they could not do on their own with the limited funding and time that are available to typical research projects,” says Starmer.
“Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is hosting this talk to help Maui residents and visitors learn about the opportunities to participate in citizen science projects and help our community better understand and protect our natural resources,” says Meredith Beeson, who organizes the Know Your Ocean Speaker Series at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “Please join this event to learn how you can get involved and make a difference.”