The goal of ORCA’s Citizen Science Program is to educate and engage community members in solving the problems that are leading to the degradation of the Indian River Lagoon.
Our educators and scientists train citizen volunteers to participate in different components of our research programs and initiatives.
This approach allows us to uniquely involve residents of all ages in measuring and monitoring local environmental conditions, identifying pollution in and around the lagoon, and arming and activating their own community to address these problems and develop solutions.
Projects you can get involved with:
ORCA's One Health program is focused on studying the transfer of toxins and toxicants from the Indian River Lagoon to humans and animals. One way we do this is by testing fish from the lagoon and surrounding waterways. One Health Fish Monitoring Citizen Scientists assist in collecting fish, as well as processing and analyzing samples in the lab at ORCA’s Center for Citizen Science.
ORCA's Pollution Mapping is a robust monitoring project that tests for a comprehensive array of both water and sediment quality data at sampling sites within the IRL or water bodies that influence the health of the lagoon. Citizen Scientists are trained to perform the same monitoring methods used by ORCA Scientists, and will "adopt" a site to test seasonally. Teams of Citizen Scientists work in the field to collect water quality data, measure muck depth, and collect water and sediment samples, and are encouraged to receive further training to perform the laboratory analyses of collected samples.
ORCA's nine Living Shorelines in Indian River County are constructed of breakwaters made from bagged, fossilized shell and hundreds of native shoreline plants. All of our Living Shorelines require quarterly monitoring. Teams of Citizen Scientists are trained to collect biological, chemical, and physical data near the breakwaters and adjacent shorelines. Most of ORCA's Living Shorelines require a boat for monitoring. Citizen Scientists will also be trained to compile, analyze, and report data to ORCA.
ORCA’s Vital Signs program measures the health and survival of a variety of sentinel species such as oysters - but including other filter feeders and bioaccumulators - deployed throughout the Lagoon. Once each season Citizen Scientists collect a subset of the species from cages deployed from docks and other fixed structures throughout the lagoon. Additionally, they clean and maintain the cages, collect water quality data, and make regular cage observations. Interested Citizen Scientists can be trained to process and analyze the samples collected as well.
Learn more: https://www.teamorca.org/citizen-science.html