Center for the Inland Bays seeking spring science surveys volunteers
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is gearing up for the 2021 survey season by hosting trainings for volunteer participants this March.
Every year, the center hosts several volunteer-driven surveys to collect data on important species, such as fish and blue crabs, as indicators of the health of their coastal environments. That information in turn can help scientists and decision-makers identify and effectively plan restoration and conservation efforts.
In March, the center will train volunteers how to participate in two of its six citizen science surveys, an Osprey Survey and the Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey, as well as training participants interested in the Center’s James Farm Ecological Preserve Docent Program.
The Osprey Survey is new to the center this year, and aims to track the nesting activity of adult ospreys in the Inland Bays. Ospreys are important indicators of the health of the bays, because they are at the top of the food chain. In a process called biomagnification, the birds ingest pollutants that may accumulate in the fish that they eat.
Researchers have been tracking data on the number of active osprey nests around the bays since the 1990s, but previous surveys to track active osprey nests stopped several years ago. Because osprey activity is such an important indicator of the health of the bays — an indicator used in the center’s five-year State of the Bays report — the center has decided to create a new, volunteer-based survey this year.
Since 2011, the center’s Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey has collected data on fish populations at 16 shoreline sites in the Inland Bays watershed. With more than 100 species of fish known to use the bays, data collected through this long-term survey can help scientists track changes in populations of the smaller and juvenile fish that inhabit marshes and intertidal areas.
The James Farm Docent Program plays a key role in educating visitors of the Preserve as they immerse themselves in various of habitats. Docents are trained to greet visitors, answer questions and offer resources to the public, such as information on the history and mission of the Preserve. The James Farm Ecological Preserve is a 150-acre property on the Indian River Bay near Ocean View that is owned by Sussex County and managed by the center.
This year, survey trainings will be held online through Zoom. Registration is required, and volunteers must fill out a volunteer application and waiver available at inlandbays.org/volunteer.
The Osprey Survey virtual training will be held at 6 p.m. March 9. To register, visit tinyurl.com/ospreysurvey. For more, visit inlandbays.org/ospreysurvey.
The training for the James Farm Docent Program will be held at 6 p.m March 24. To register, visit tinyurl.com/jamesfarmdocent. For more, visit inlandbays.org/james-farm-docent-program.
The training for the Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey will be held at 6 p.m. March 31. To register, visit tinyurl.com/centerfishsurvey. For more, visit inlandbays.org/fishsurvey.
Additional trainings for the Center’s Volunteer Horseshoe Crab Survey, Diamondback Terrapin Survey and Reforestation Survey will be held in April, and more information will be shared on those programs at a later date.
For more, visit inlandbays.org/volunteer.