Category Archives: Citizen Science

Green Crab Team: Summer 2020 Report


The 2020 members of the Elger Bay Invasive European Green Crab team include: Junji Yamamoto, Pat Foss, Kathy McNally, Jim McNally and John Mathis (Team Lead). Originally Tom and Kristina Trowbridge enrolled in the 2020 training and planned to volunteer at the Elger bay site.  However, the 2020 training was canceled because of COVID-19. Therefore, we asked Jim and Kathy McNally, who had been trained and were volunteering at another site, to join the Elger Bay team. Thankfully they agreed to double their Green Crab monitoring responsibilities and have become vital members of the Elger Bay team.

The Elger Bay Invasive Green Crab monitoring team will complete the six month 2020 monitoring season during the first week of September. So far we have trapped, counted and safely released over 2,150 crab; 95% of the crab we have found are Hairy Shore Crab, followed by Purple Shore Crab, Red Rock Crab, and Dungeness Crab. A few sculpin have also found their way into our traps. Luckily, for the fourth year in a row, we have found no Invasive European Green Crab at the Elger Bay site!!

Unfortunately, other Salish Sea sites have found Invasive Green Crab during the same four year time period including: Samish Bay, Lummi Bay, Kala Point, Dungeness Spit, Chuckanut Bay, Drayton Harbor and Westcott Bay. When green crab are found, Sea Grant staff/volunteers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Tribal biologists/volunteers deploy the “rapid response” trapping protocol. Our regular detection trapping requires the use of six traps per site. The rapid response team deploys hundreds of traps and expands the area the traps are set when a green crab is found. In this way, they hope to trap out this invasive species before a reproductive population can be established. To date this effort has been successful. 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of challenges for the Sea Grant staff and the hundreds of volunteers around the Salish Sea and on coastal waters. As you know many volunteer activities were canceled this year because of the “Stay at Home-Stay Healthy” order. However, the University of Washington designated Invasive Green Crab Monitoring a “critical service.” Each volunteer a received a memo in May outlining the guidelines and recommendations for volunteering. As the monitoring season has progressed, other safety measures for volunteers have been added.

Each Elger Bay team member wears a mask, gloves, and remains 6 feet apart. In addition, we have sanitary wipes/hand sanitizer and a digital forehead thermometer on site. Before each monitoring cycle our volunteers submit an electronic form to Sea Grant attesting that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Following these simple procedures makes each member feel safe, while being able to enjoy the company of others and completing an important (critical) volunteer activity.

photos by Kathy McNally, article by John Mathis

New Beachcomber Guide

Book Review by Jeanie McElwain, Class of 2003


The New Beachcomber’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest revised and expanded in 2019 by J. Duane Sept is “a stunning new resource for identifying the invertebrates and algae who live on our Island shores” says Jeanie McElwain of Whidbey Island in this book review.

Those who have used Sept’s previous editions know that they, along with Rick M. Harbro’s Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest, are the take-to-the- beach defaults for anyone who wants to know the many species which aren’t on our Common Intertidal Invertebrates EZ-ID cards.

Is it worth upgrading to Sept’s new work if you already have his previous editions? Absolutely! The book has dozens of additional species. Some pictures have been upgraded. And, to make ID easier, an Illustrated Glossary now identifies the body parts of commonly-found invertebrates.

At the front, 15 pages of shell photos, four to six shells per page, make it easy to compare many shells at once as we try to distinguish between species.

Sept has broken out the visually-confusing array of shield and finger limpets into forms based on the locations in which they are found. For the shield limpet, for example, he describes “all,” “rock,” “mussel,” “turban snail,” “feather boa” and “eelgrass” forms. For those of us who have despaired of ever being sure of our limpet ID skills, this is helpful and reassuring.

Another major change are the current and updated names of many species. This can be unsettling for those of us who love and remember some of our scientific names for the sheer beauty of the words. A point in case is the Painted Anemone, previously known as Urticina crassicornis and now renamed Urticina grebelnyi.

This is good because as citizen scientists, we need to be up-to-date, but also challenging, because making the shift is hard as our brains need to adjust for both old and new names.

The book is $26.95 and is sold at several local bookstores. Warning: it is over twice the size of the previous edition and roughly 3/4 inch larger in height and width. This makes it too big for most pockets, but well-worth the inconvenience for all the richness it adds to our ID adventures. I still take may take my old, smaller edition down to the beach, but this version is waiting in the car for me to check as soon as I leave the beach!