Heading out to the Sound? Looking for a way to keep the kids entertained? PWSSF is excited to highlight some ways volunteers can participate in ongoing stewardship initiatives in the Sound. Help us gather information throughout the area for a wide range of organizations, agencies, and scientists who work to protect the area's resources.
Ongoing Opportunities through PWSSF
The following efforts are being done in conjunction with PWSSF's efforts. By participating as a citizen scientist, you help amplify PWSSF's mission to protect Prince William Sound.
Mussels Monitoring for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)
Would you like to gather a mussels sample for us? It's quick and easy, and it provides a great chance to keep the kids engaged in stewardship of the Sound.
PWSSF is partnering with Alutiiq Pride Marine Institute, Chugach Resources Regional Commission, and Alaska Ocean Observing Systems to monitor for PSP. Mussels samples are needed once each month from Pigot Bay Cabin, Derickson Spit (Port Nellie Juan), and Foxfarm Bay.
To participate in this opportunity, follow these steps:
1. A few days in advance of collecting mussels, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’ll be collecting mussels while out in the Sound. This will ensure we have someone ready in Girdwood to receive your samples. We will also send you specific coordinates for sample collection.
2. Mussels need to arrive at the Alutiiq Pride lab in Seward in a somewhat fresh condition. Please choose a collection time that is closest to when you will be traveling back to Girdwood (within 24 hours). This may be tricky to also align with low tide.
3. Select 10 medium-sized mussels from close to the water line.
4. Pry the mussels from the rocks with a screwdriver or other dull tool, being careful not to break shells or cut your hands.
5. Keep the mussels cool by placing them in a cooler, refrigerator, plastic bag with ice (leave bag open to prevent suffocation), or simply by keeping them out of the sun.
6. Deliver the mussels to PWS Stewardship Foundation representatives in Girdwood for delivery to the lab in Seward.
Thank you for your interest in monitoring for PSP!
Interested in checking out results of testing from Prince William Sound and around the state of Alaska? Check out the Alaska Ocean Observing Systems website.
Collect shellfish samples to help protect subsistence resources
Our Leave it Better program just keeps getting better and better! We even earned the Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR) Award for Volunteerism or Service in 2021.
Participate in the Leave it Better program by bringing our ALPAR trash bags into PWS. You can pick up trash bags from one of our distributors on your way to the Sound. Our distributors include:
-Glacier Ranger District office in Girdwood
-Harbormaster's Office in Whittier
-Lazy Otter Charters in Whittier
-Alaska Sea Kayakers in Whittier
These bags are intended for removal of marine debris and camp garbage left along PWS shorelines. Once you've filled your bag(s) of garbage, carry them out and dispose of the bags on the mainland, if possible.
Traveling light and can't take the bags with you? No problem!
1. Leave the bags above the high tide line
2. Take a photo and GPS of the coordinates
3. Notify Glacier Ranger District of their location or use the Prince William Sound Facebook forum, which consists of a community eager to help steward our public lands. By posting coordinates and a description of where bags are left, a generous boater is likely to assist with a pickup.
Thank you for Leaving It Better in PWS! Please don't hesitate to reach out to email@example.com with any questions.
Leave It Better Yellow Bag Program
Help us #LeaveItBetterPWS
European Green Crab monitoring is done in partnership with PWS Regional Citizens' Advisory Council. These efforts will help inform the establishment and potential spread of this non-native species.
We are finalizing our procedure with RCAC and will post details here soon. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
European Green Crab Monitoring
Help monitor for one of the top
100 worst invasive species globally
Have you ever wondered which areas within PWS offer the best opportunities for solitude? You can help PWSSF answer that question. Help us gather data on visitor use trends! PWSSF is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to collect data on visitor use trends in Prince William Sound.
Our monitoring sites include:
17 Mile in Blackstone Bay Toboggan
Pakenham Derickson Spit
Bass Harbor Bay of Isles
Wellesley Glacier (south) Dual Head
Elf Point Fox Farm Bay
Granite Mine Trail Cascade Falls Trail
Shrode Lake Trail Foul Island
Squire Island. North Culross
Although these are the priority sites, we value data from any part of PWS!
Monitoring for visitor use within PWS helps PWSSF and land management agencies better understand patterns in visitation. It informs which areas are seeing increased use and which areas offer opportunities for solitude. Collecting this data is a simple and valuable way to engage in stewardship of our public lands.
To get involved, please follow these steps:
1. Reach out to email@example.com to express interest. We will send you more detailed data collection instructions.
2. Download Survey123 on your handheld device.
3. Put aside 4 hours to collect data anywhere on western PWS Forest Service lands.
4. Follow the provided protocol to ensure the data you collect can be utilized in our trend analysis.
5. Submit the survey.
6. Woohoo! Done.
Help identify the locations in PWS with the best opportunities for solitude
Repeated photographs of specific locations can be used to help understand natural variability in the ecosystem and the impacts of events, such as heat waves and oil spills.
Several such time series were began after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Others began as a way to observe recolonization after major changes, such as a landslide or the construction of a new area of intertidal fill.
Contribute to the Oil Spill Recovery Institute's (OSRI) ongoing project by downloading the guide and then uploading your photos at https://osri.us/time-series/
These locations include:
1. Northwest Bay Rocky Islet
60 33 22.04 N 147 35 14.86 W
2. Mussel Beach, Upper Passage
60 32 05.42 N 147 37 01.56 W
3. Block Island, Upper Passage
60 31 44.91 N 147 36 32.53 W
4. Landslide, Lower Passage
60 30 07.85 N 147 41 25.94 W
5. Herring Bay Set Aside
60 27 23.02 N 147 42 46.10 W
6. Mearns Rock, Snug Harbor
60 15 48.22 N 147 45 50.22 W
7. Bert & Ernie, Shelter Bay
60 07 03.37 N 147 57 23.58 W
8. Crab Bay Rocky
60 03 39.43 N 147 59 39.71 W
9. Eshamy Bay Rocky
60 28 11.02 N 148 00 00.73 W
Also, check out Scott Pegau's talk on this photo series from our 2023 Prince William Sound Natural History Symposium.
Intertidal Time Series
Help understand natural variability in the ecosystem and the impacts of events, such as heat waves and oil spills
The following efforts are not directly affiliated with PWSSF, but offer great opportunities to get involved in a broader range of stewardship initiatives.
Join the Nurdle Patrol! This citizen science project is looking to gather information about where nurdles are located in the environment, remove the nurdles from the environment, and create awareness about the nurdle issue. Nurdles are small plastic pellets that act as the basis of everything plastic. They are small and look like food to animals, and they can even be deadly to some animals, as they absorb harmful chemicals in the environment. Join Nurdle Patrol to help create change in policies to prevent nurdles from entering waterways.
PWSSF is integrating Nurdle Patrol into our marine debris protocols, but you can help out anytime you have 10 minutes on a beach!
Pick up plastic pellets (nurdles) at your beach for 10 minutes.
Send location, date, pics, and number found to NurdlePatrol.org.
Community Snow Observations
Become a part of a growing community of observers! Measuring snow depth takes only a few minutes out of your day. You'll also have a chance to understand more about the snowpack and its variability in the areas that you frequent.
All you need is a snow probe and a smartphone!
Check out https://communitysnowobs.org/participate/ to learn more about how to contribute to this growing set of data.
Alaska Forest Health Observations
Have you ever seen an insect or pathogen affecting a tree, whether it be the nibbling at the foliage, growing on the trunk, etc.? Any observations of forest health interest will be automatically included in this project when uploaded as an observation to iNaturalist.
Not quite sure what you saw? Post it anyway! Forest health staff will periodically review iNaturalist observations and will post identifications on your observations for you. If you can, include photos from multiple angles, and include the host plant either in the "notes" section or include a picture of the host.
Contributing data is easy! Take your phone with you on your outdoor adventures, snap some photos, and upload photos to iNaturalist when you have time and internet service. Make sure to always practice bear awareness and take only photographs.
This database hosts a collection of observations of insects and pathogens of forest health interest in Alaska: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/alaska-forest-health-observations.
Let’s put PWS on the map as part of the global inventory of seagrass! Seagrasses are all around shallow depths in the Sound. While these bright green flowering plants often indicate a poor anchorage, they’re also vital for keeping sediment in place, sequestering carbon, nurturing young salmon and other species, and buffering local ocean acidification.
Globally, estimates suggest we lose an area of seagrass equal to two football fields every hour. Protecting what is left is vital.
Get started by using this link: https://seagrassspotter.org
COASST Seabird Surveys
The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) program generates data to help assess patterns of seabird mortality due to natural and human-induced events. There are more than 1,000 participants in this program, making COASST the largest beached bird network in the world.
You can get involved in COASST seabird monitoring here: https://coasst.org
Are you a history, weather, or ocean buff? Maybe all three?! You can join thousands of other citizen science volunteers in transcribing voyage logs from whaling, Coast Guard, or other ships dating back to the mid-19th century to help NOAA add to our understanding of Arctic weather over the decades.
Check out https://www.oldweather.org to get started.
Alaska Beluga Monitoring Project
The Alaska Beluga Monitoring Partnership (AKBMP) is a collaboration between several organizations that offer opportunities for volunteer citizen scientists to contribute to endangered beluga monitoring efforts in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Monitoring sessions take place in the spring (mid-March to late May) and in the fall (late August to mid-November).
As a community science monitoring volunteer you can collect important data on beluga distribution and habitat use in nearshore waters while building working relationships with professional researchers and scientists. The data you collect will be shared with researchers and federal agency personnel to inform ongoing marine mammal research and management activities and will be incorporated into NOAA’s Beluga Sightings Databases. If you are interested in how to become a part of the team check out https://akbmp.org/volunteer/.