We’ve made some changes to our monitoring program this year, so thought we’d start with a bit of history.
We monitored our first beach in 1994 (as WSU Island County Beach Watchers).
By 2003, the Beach Monitoring Procedure guide was published (view pdf) and 11 beaches on Camano and 23 beaches on Whidbey islands had permanent monitoring profile lines. Since then, these beaches have been monitored annually.
What began as a method to provide baseline data (a base or normal condition of our beaches) has now become a long term study of the status of our beaches and the trends of beach slope, substrate, and populations of invertebrates and plants. It is the first and longest beach monitoring project in the Puget Sound. It was intended as a volunteer education exercise (citizen science project) with the expectation that the data would also be useful for research. Thus the original protocol was designed to be scientifically valid, and the collected information was stored in a database, but no one was analyzing it.
A 2014 revisit – protocol and data
In 2014, our coordinator contacted the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program of the Puget Sound Partnership. A data analysis team, headed by Jason Toft from the University of Washington Sea Grant, was formed to assess the potential of the data set. After probing the integrity of the monitoring protocol and the data set itself, they came to understand how unique our long term data set is and saw immediate uses.
- our annual monitoring project creates a valuable resource
- there is no need to modify our monitoring protocol
- Their analysis will be submitted for publication this fall: “How Citizen Science Informs Volunteer, Management, and Science Objectives”. The principal author is Jason Toft (draft manuscript available upon request.)
Recent Changes – Whidbey
Some of Whidbey’s west side beaches have changed enough over the past 15 years that the original profile starting point markers were no longer present. A team was established to look into this and other opportunities for improvement.
To free up resources to re-calibrate the beaches, and to balance the need to allocate citizen science volunteers over many different activities, we decided to move to a three year rotation for each beach. So moving forward, we will monitor 8 beaches each year.
Recent Changes – Camano
A new beach, Tillicum Beach, was added in August of this year to replace Sunny Shores that had to be discontinued 4 years ago. Tillicum Beach is on the southeast side of Camano Island facing Port Susan.
Making the Protocol More Readable
A Camano/Whidbey team has been established (led by Dave Brubaker and Kelly Zupich) to review the 2003 Beach Monitoring Procedures (protocol) with the goal of editing, updating, and clarifying specific monitoring procedures. The goal is an updated protocol (no protocol changes, just more understandable) by early 2017.
To all the dedicated volunteers over the last 22 years that have made this such a long-term success! For pictures of some volunteers at work in 2016 – please see our google photos album:
Using a google photo album:
- Click on the first photo to enlarge it
- Then click the 'i' icon at upper right to make captions visible
- Then use the arrow icons (or your fingers) to move between pictures