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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A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date.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 cghdixon@ucdavis.edu. 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.

Gray Whales Count

  • Organization Name
    Gray Whales Count
  • Organization Website
  • Partners
    UCSB's Coal Oil Point Reserve; NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center; Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab - SIO/UCSD; Cascadia Research Collective; Journey North; Otter Project
  • Contact Name
    Michael H Smith
  • Contact Email
  • Contact Phone
  • Other Contact Information
    N / A
  • Project Purpose (taken from project materials)

    Research goals: estimate the number of gray whales and gray-whale calves migrating northbound through our corridor and to share our data to complement similar sampling-studies along the California coast.  

    Education goals: teach the process of scientific research to Counters and to give them the opportunity to conduct a meaningful study, to experience marine mammals in their environment, and to share this process and their enthusiasm with publics through outreach and various media, especially the internet.

  • Participant Activities

    Participants (Counters) on land monitor the passage of gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) migrating northbound through the nearshore of the Santa Barbara Channel, along a corridor extending approximately 3 nautical miles (nm) from shore.

    The observation team consists of from one to five Counters, including the Project Coordinator, up to two Supervisors, and up to two Observers. Supervisor shifts are four hours; Observer shifts are two hours; and the Project Coordinator is usually on-site all day. The Project Coordinator and/or a Supervisor is always on Counter Point.

  • Data Entry
    • Website
    • Data Sheets
  • Other Participant Activities

    Experienced observers can become project supervisors. All participants can share the process and their enthusiasm with the public through outreach and various media.

  • System Studied
    • Mammals
    • Marine
  • Geographic Scope
  • Region
    Santa Barbara
  • Location
    Counter Point on the Coal Oil Point Reserve in Goleta, California,
  • Location - Map
    Counter Point, Goleta, CA
  • Time Commitment
    • Specific dates (see Other Information below)
  • Volunteer Qualifications

    No experience is required.

  • Volunteer Training

    Participants receive training during counting activities. Participants will receive training on use of binoculars that have a reticle scale and a compass, so that the observation team can work together to record datapoints and confirm identities.

    Supervisors will receive specific training on this research and the operation of the project site by Michael Smith and experienced Supervisors. 

  • Cost to Participant

    For participants comfort and safety Gray Whales Count requires that participants bring sunglasses, preferably polarized. They strongly advise that participants wear a hat and sunscreen, and also suggest layers for warmth. 

  • How will the findings be used?

    Whale count is posted on line. Data is shared with other conservation and research organization and used for research purposes by collaborating institutions.

    Reports created using project data are accessible at http://www.graywhalescount.org/GWC/Do_Whales_Count.html

  • Other Information

    The survey is conducted 105 consecutive days from early February though mid-May. Conditions permitting, each survey-day begins at 9 AMand ends usually at 5 PM.

  • Photo
    N / A
  • last update:

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email cghdixon@ucdavis.edu.

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 http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects.