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Citizens become Scientists at MacArthur Beach State Park

Jun 14, 2014 12:00pm - 1:00pm

This Summer John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is participating in its’ second Citizen Science Program.  Citizen Science is a term describing the process of participatory scientific research which involves the public, professional scientists, the collection of meaningful data and education.  Citizen Science connects people to hands-on, memorable experiences in nature, engages people interested in making a productive contribution, increases understanding of scientific process, expands the capacity of scientists to address many research questions and data needs and strengthens attitudes towards the natural environment. 

Citizen Science projects are taking place all over the United States and the majority of them feed data into national clearing houses on topics covering a huge range of research including mammals, birds, invertebrates, plants, invasive species, water quality, air quality, weather, and astronomy.  These enormous data sets help scientists understand shifts in the distribution of birds, interpret patterns in ecological systems, discover thousands of objects in the night sky including nebulas and much, much more.

This year MacArthur Beach State Park will excavate loggerhead sea turtle nests to determine the productivity of the nests along its beach.   A group of citizen scientists along with MacArthur Beach State Park staff will excavate a loggerhead sea turtle’s nest five days after a hatch-out to analyze and record their findings.  Following the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) strict regulations and protocols on egg excavation, the citizen scientists will hand dig into the nests until they reach the clutch.  Once they reach the clutch they will sort the eggs into various groups determining nest productivity and hatchling success.

“Since last year’s Citizen Science Program was so successful, we decided to increase the number of nests that will be excavated from 10 to 50 over the next several months,” says Scott Duncan, Park Ranger.  “All data that is collected will be sent to FWC to compare our productivity to other beaches in the area,” he adds. 

MacArthur Beach State Park is currently looking for more Citizen Scientists. There will be a training on June 14th at 9am at the Park. If interested or for more information contact Ranger Scott at scott.duncan@dep.state.fl.us.

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, Palm Beach County’s only state park, is situated on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Lake Worth Lagoon.  The Park is made up of 438 acres of pristine coastal land and contains four different communities or habitats including seven species of plants and twenty-two species of animals on the endangered or threatened list.  MacArthur Beach is truly an “Island in Time.      



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