by Stacey Thompson '11
Ruth Richards (SWS ’15) and Stacey Thompson (SWS ’11) are involved in the Forage Fish Surveys on both Camano Island. Stacey states, “I love the training and the people. I love the monitoring and being on the beaches with my head in the sun and boots in the mud.” This reflects not only the stewardship and science aspects of our work together, but the strong sense of community that is developed as we work toward common goals. Stacey has also volunteered for community fairs such as Snow Goose Festival and enjoys the education part of our mission as she teaches school children about barnacles, estuaries, zooplankton and phytoplankton.
But what really inspired Stacey when she shared her work with me was the dedication of her team lead on the Forage Fish Monitoring Survey. “Ruth Richards is amazing,” Stacey shared with me, “Whenever I meet her at the boat ramp at Camano Island State Park, she has already been out for a few hours and her car is loaded up with all of our supplies. My citizen science project was collecting eggs of forage fish. Ruth Richards was our lead. Her enthusiasm and expertise coupled with patience and kindness, made this endeavor for me worthwhile and interesting.” Their team collected beach rocks along the high tide line where the fish eggs can be found. After setting up a battery run pump, sieves and various bottle to collect the sifted samples, they would sift the rocks for the eggs. Forage fish are candlefish, smelt and greenlings-all food for salmon. When scientists study the data accumulated, it helps identify if we have sufficient food supplies for the salmon, an important indicator for a healthy salmon run. “Often boaters and park visitors would stop by and ask what we were doing,” Stacey continued, “It was an opportunity for further education on the importance of forage fish. So this is not just citizen science but a community outreach project. And it just makes a great day on the Salish Sea!” For more information on the Forage Fish Project, check out our partnership with Marine Resource Committee Forage Fish Survey | Island County Marine Resource Committee.