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PhytoCitizen Science Partners

During a Service Learning or Citizen Science program, our upper middle or high school students may participate in a variety of data gathering activities, which is then submitted to the appropriate agency. Sarah Egner is our Director of Program Development, and is always busy contacting environmental agencies, researchers and universities to see how MarineLab's staff and students can help them. MarineLab is very pleased to join these organizations as partners and data providers. We also keep a database of all the data that we have collected through the years, which is available to teachers for use in student projects.

Water Quality Monitoring

Partner: GLOBE
MRDF staff and students collect water quality data throughout the year for GLOBE, an international citizen science database.  Water quality data is collected by any students that participate in our water quality lab and the students enter their data into the database on their last day at MarineLab.  This data is accessible by the teachers at their home school to look at, graph, compare, etc. 

Partner: University of Florida
UF’s Lakewatch program is a citizen science based water quality program which studies nutrient and chlorophyll levels at established sites.  Once a month, MarineLab students collect water samples in Florida Bay while on a mangrove ecology field trip.  All data is available online.

Partner: Florida's Fish & Wildlife Commission
FWC Red Tide Monitoring program is a citizen science program focused on red tides in the Atlantic.  Once a month, visiting MarineLab students collect the samples while on a coral reef trip.

Partner: Florida International University
For the past 7 years, FIU’s water quality monitoring program in the Florida Keys has assisted with MarineLab attaining and maintaining high quality water quality equipment (YSI sondes) for our advanced students to use.  Water quality data students collect with the sonde is sent to FIU.

Seagrass Surveys

Partner:  Seagrass Watch
MRDF has been a part of Seagrass Watch, an international citizen science network based out of Australia, since 2012.   This program has been funded by Disney Conservation Foundation, allowing us to expand the program significantly.  Quarterly surveys at three permanent sites are conducted by MarineLab staff and a seagrass survey program has been integrated into our curriculum.  Students conduct mock surveys, analyze their data and compare data collected to staff data and discuss with MRDF biologist staff.   All data is accessible via MarineLab’s in-house database.

Our seagrass survey programs are partially funded by the Disney Conservation Fund.

Coral Restoration

Partner: Coral Restoration Foundation
MRDF has partnered with CRF for the past 7 years.  MarineLab students can observe and/or participate in CRF’s efforts as snorkelers, divers or from land.  In 2015, MRDF staff took over routine maintenance of CRF’s Elbow coral nursery.  This partnership has given the staff a better understanding of coral restoration and given MarineLab the opportunity to take visiting students to the nursery.  Staff participate in coral restoration events throughout the year and have established restoration sites at shallow snorkel sites for MarineLab students to observe firsthand.

Coral Monitoring

Partner: Mote Marine Lab Bleachwatch Program
Mote Marine Lab’s citizen science bleachwatch program enables our students to survey the reef for bleaching and disease and report back to Mote scientists via an online datasheet. 

Partner: Reef Check
Reef Check is coral monitoring citizen science program designed to assess the health of a coral reef.  MarineLab student divers can be trained as Reef Check Eco Divers to survey the reef and provide Reef Check with data.

Fish Surveys

Partner: Dr. Deron Burkepile (University of California)
Via this partnership, students participate in a parrotfish behavior study.  We worked collaboratively with Dr. Burkepile  to create field protocols that would provide visiting students the opportunity to collect parrotfish feeding data on a coral reef field trip.

Partner: Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
REEF is a Key Largo based non profit that provides protocols for citizen scientists to collect data on fish diversity and abundance.  Visiting students are trained on fish identification and REEF methods before a coral reef trip to participate in a survey.


Partner: Florida SeaGrant
MarineLab is a regional coordinator for SeaGrant’s Florida Microplastics Awareness Program.  Students participating in our microplastics lab analyze 1 L samples and determine the number of plastics and the type of plastics within each sample.  All data is entered into FMAPs online database

Partner: NOAA Marine Debris Program
NOAA’s Marine Debris program is researching microplastic abundance and categories found in Gulf of Mexico coastline sediments.  MarineLab is the southernmost study site for this Gulfwide study.  We will specifically be looking at microplastics found in mangrove sediment.

Our plastic awareness outreach program is partially funded by the Ocean Reef Conservation Association.

Marine Debris

Partner: Mote Marine Lab
We offer a marine debris program for students to learn about the impacts of marine debris, participate in a coastal cleanup, and then collect marine debris data focused on fishing gear for Dr. Kim Hull of Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota.

Phytoplankton Monitoring

Partner: NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network

We began working with NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network, a citizen science program, in 2012.  As part of this program, instructors sample the waters of Largo Sound bimonthly, look for target phytoplankton species and submit data and water samples to PMN biologists.  We have also been able to integrate phytoplankton monitoring into our curriculum.  Students are taught the importance of phytoplankton to our oceans, effects of HABs, etc., and then use high powered compound microscopes with LED screens to ID phytoplankton and submit their own data to NOAA. 
We also coordinate a community based phytoplankton project.  Local members of the community that spend time on or near the water, primarily Coast Guard Auxiliary and local student groups, bring a phytoplankton sample once/month to MarineLab for analysis.  We now have waters being sampled monthly from Ocean Reef to Tavernier.  All data is submitted to NOAA.