California Naturalist
California Naturalist
California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Community Science for CA Naturalists

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

 Project Name MPA Watch - Otter Project
 Organization Name Otter Project
 Project Website
 Organization Website
 Partners Monterey Coastkeeper
 Contact Name Mark Welden-Smith
 Contact Email
 Contact Phone (831)646-8837 x116
 Project Purpose (taken from project materials) 1) Foster compliance and inform management decisions for Central Coast MPAs by providing useful information to enforcement and management agencies - monitoring for compliance can ensure that scientific monitoring is reflecting the dynamics of the ecosystem and not persistent human impact;
2) Inform management decisions by providing useful information to enforcement and management agencies, some of which acknowledge feeling overburdened by new regulations.  

MPA Watch will address questions such as: 

  • Are certain activities increasing around MPAs (i.e. increased wildlife viewing, diving, etc.)
  • Are regulations being followed? 
  • What are the threats and benefits of MPA use?


 Participant Activities Volunteers follow site specific monitoring protocols detailing the procedure for conducting each survey. Protocols include GPS coordinates for starting, ending, and observation points, and site specific pictures for clarification of coordinates. All surveys are scaled to take about one hour to complete. 

 Data Entry Data Sheets
 Other Participant Activities Participation in Otter Project and Coastkeeper education and advocacy work

 System Studied Intertidal zone, Other (see Notes)
 Geographic Scope Regional
 Region Northern California
 Location Marine Protected Areas in the Central Coast Region - Bean Hollow, north of Año Nuevo in San Mateo County, to Point Buchon SMR, in San Luis Obispo County
 Location - Map Point Buchon, San Luis Obispo County; Año Nuevo Bay California
 Time Commitment Other (see Other Information below)
 Volunteer Training Training on observation and data recording protocols. Contact Mark Welden-Smith for training schedule.

 How will the findings be used? Findings will inform policy and management decisions regarding MPA's in the Central Coast region.

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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