Winter Science Adventures

The weather is getting frightful, but citizen science remains delightful! Vashon Nature Center volunteers are contributing to some amazing projects. See below for a short photo summary of winter activities so far:

VNC Salmonwatchers: November brought the first photo documented record of Chum salmon using Fisher Creek! Thanks to Salmonwatcher Mary Shackleford for spotting the fish and Salmonwatch coordinator Kelly Keenan for obtaining the video footage to confirm. Jill Andrews also helped document more chum coming up after the initial sighting! Our photo documented data will be used to update King County records of fish use in Vashon streams and will increase the known spawning habitats in these creeks considerably.

First photo documented Chum Salmon in Fisher Creek, Vashon Island from Vashon Nature Center on Vimeo.

VNC Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring: VNC is participating in a program that has just deployed 94 mussel cages throughout Puget Sound to monitor for a variety of pollutants including heavy metals and some pesticides. This program made the news!  Thanks to Hooper Havekotte for ferrying the mussels across to Vashon and helping deploy the mussel cage late at night in the pouring rain a few weeks ago! 2015/2016 results

Thanks Hooper for your dedicated mussel cage deployment help! photo: Bianca Perla

These mussels (in the blue bags) will sit in Quartermaster harbor until February when VNC volunteers will retrieve them and send them to a lab to test for a variety of heavy metals and pesticides.

VNC BeachNET: our BeachNET team just got back from a lovely night combing the beach for forage fish eggs, finding Pacific herring, and stopping to gaze periodically at the Geminid meteor shower and learn some astrology. Thanks to Kat, Adria and Alex for a wonderful survey night! Here Kat holds a herring she found and Alex, Adria, and Kat string out the survey line.

BeachNET volunteer Kat holds a Pacific herring she found on our last beach survey beneath the Geminid meteor shower. Keep an eye out for herring spawning on eel grass around Vashon starting in February and let us know if you see any eggs! photo by: Bianca Perla

BeachNET volunteers Alex, Kat, and Adria play out the sample line for forage fish surveys. photo by: Bianca Perla

Thank you to all 33 BeachNET volunteers who are helping us monitor island beaches for forage fish spawning and monitor changes to the beach ecosystem as a result of bulkhead removal. This research is in partnership with King County, Washington Department of Natural Resources, University of Washington and graduate student Kirsten Miller of Evergreen college. Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust is our fiscal sponsor for this project and Vashon High School students in the AP Environmental Science class are helping us with surveys as well!

Nature Lounge: We had a nice turn out for our most recent Nature Lounge at Snapdragon where islander and Pt. Defiance Senior aquarist, Chad Widmer, spun fascinating stories about his research subject– jellyfish! The discussion was lively and entertaining and touched on jellyfish life cycles, jellyfish and climate change, and even whether jellyfish can learn. Thank you Chad for a really great night.  We can’t wait to visit Pt. Defiance when the new exhibits open this summer! Stay tuned.


Jellyfish expert and Senior Aquarist for Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Chad Widmer delights VNCers with his glass blown replicas of all stages of the jellyfish life cycle. Thanks Chad!

Don’t miss the upcoming events: Full moon beachwalk, VNC Naturalist workshop on Nature Observation, and the March Nature Lounge on Green crabs with  Jeff Adams from UW Seagrant! More info on our Events page.

Contact us to get involved in any of these citizen science activities.

Happy Winter everyone!

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