Citizen Science Programs
There are many opportunities to participate in harmful algal bloom monitoring, from volunteering to collect samples to reporting instances of blooms in your area. Explore the list of resources below to get involved in your region!
The National Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) is a community-based network of volunteers monitoring marine phytoplankton and HABs. PMN recognizes the interrelationships between humans and coastal ecosystems while providing volunteer citizen scientists with meaningful opportunities for hands-on science engagement. The PMN enhances the Nation’s ability to respond to and manage the growing threat posed by HABs by collecting important data for species composition and distribution in coastal waters and creating working relationships between volunteers and professional marine biotoxin researchers. Click HERE to learn more.
Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collective has three unique monitoring projects to locate and understand cyanoHABs engaging citizen scientists, trained water professionals, and the general public. Their programs include the bloomWatch app, cyanoScope, and cyanoMonitoring. Click HERE to get involved and learn more.
The Glenn Research Center, funded by NASA, uses volunteer pilots and airplane owners to capture aerial images of potential HABs. Pilots on their regular paths simply have an imaging system mounted to their craft that captures photos that can help develop an early warning system to alert communities of ensuing algal bloom along the coastline. Click HERE to learn more.
Programs by region
New York Sea Grant has a website for citizens to document and report occurrences of marine HABs and freshwater HABs . Click HERE to learn more and find their reporting forms near the bottom of the site.
This platform allows community members to report blooms on Cayuga Lake, NY. If individuals are interested in monitoring Cayuga Lake’s shoreline on a routine basis this group does train volunteers as well by becoming a HABs Harrier. Click HERE to get involved and learn more.
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has many opportunities for community members to volunteer including in HAB monitoring. Click HERE to learn more.
Maine's Department of Marine Resources monitors coastal water quality and harmful algae in shellfish harvesting areas to protect public health. Phytoplankton volunteers receive training and equipment to collect water samples and identify toxic phytoplankton independently. Click HERE to learn more an d get involved.
Friends of Casco Bay relies on a network of more than 200 volunteer Water Reporters to track the spread of the nuisance algae growth around the Bay. They use that information to alert the State, local municipalities, and others to changes in Maine coastal waters. Click HERE to learn more.
The University of Delaware Sea Grant Program has established a HAB Monitoring Program, which complements and supports the Inland Bays Citizen Monitoring Program and Broadkill River Monitoring Program. Through this program, volunteers are trained to identify and count harmful algae species associated with problematic blooms. Click HERE to learn more.
Smartphone users can now download a new app to self-report impacts of Florida red tide algae (Karenia brevis), thanks to Mote Marine Laboratory’s project to engage citizen scientists along Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast.
The free app, Citizen Science Information Collaboration (CSIC), allows users to report when and where they experience respiratory irritation or see discolored water or dead fish — all potential indications of Florida red tide. Click HERE to download the app.
Based out of Florida, HABScope is a program designed to get volunteers to collect water samples and provide real-time cell counts of Karenia brevis from a sampling location using a HABscope field kit. This is project is run by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Observing System. Click HERE to learn more.
The FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute established the Red Tide Volunteer Monitoring Program to expand spatial coverage for researchers studying Karenia brevis, that cause Florida red tide. Volunteers collect offshore, alongshore, or inshore water samples from routine collection points and sites reported for suspected harmful algal blooms (HABs) in all Florida counties. Click HERE to learn more.
Beach Watchers Washington programs gives local community members the opportunity to become engaged in protecting the Salish Sea through education, research and stewardship. Volunteers attend a formal training program in such subjects as water quality, coastal processes, education techniques, and marine life including HABs. Beach Watchers are involved in a broad range of projects, which allows volunteers to participate in the ones that meet their interests in their communities. They are expected to dedicate at least 80 hours per year volunteering. To learn more click HERE.
If you think your lake or river is experiencing a algal bloom, Washington State's Toxic Algae program directs citizens on how to collect a sample to send in for HABs testing. Click HERE to learn more.
Report suspected blooms to CA.gov to help the state manage HABs. This site allows citizens to provide information about suspected or confirmed algal blooms and any related human or animal illnesses. Click HERE to report a CA bloom.
Funded by USC and California Sea Grant, HABWatch is a volunteer harmful algal bloom monitoring network for early detection and sets into place a method for rapid response. Volunteers monitor Southern California shoreline waters weekly for the presence of HABs. Click HERE to learn more.
SoundToxins a partnership among shellfish growers, learning centers, tribes, and volunteers, is a monitoring program designed to provide early warning of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in order to minimize both human health risks and economic losses to Puget Sound fisheries. Seawater samples are collected weekly by participants at over twenty different sites throughout Puget Sound and are analyzed for salinity, temperature, nutrients, chlorophyll, V. parahaemolyticus, and phytoplankton species. The program is administered by Washington Sea Grant and NOAA Fisheries. Click HERE to learn more.
California's Department of Public Health Marine Biotoxin Program coordinates a volunteer-based monitoring effort for toxic phytoplankton along the entire California coastline. Click HERE to get involved and learn more.
Join Utah State University Extension in Utah Water Watch (UWW) to participate in HAB monitoring. As you visit lakes and reservoirs across Utah, participates make observations and help by recording the presence of a HAB using UWW citizen science datasheet. Click HERE to learn more.
The Regional Science Consortium provides Citizen Science workshops to train individuals on how to recognize and report a potential harmful algal bloom. Training includes proper HAB identification, reporting, and feedback from our scientists. These observations provide additional data to scientists at the RSC to track and monitor harmful algal blooms in this region. Click HERE to get involved and learn more.
Kentucky’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program involves citizen scientists to help address data gaps and improve the characterization of lake water quality in Kentucky. Volunteers conduct field measurements and observations related to general water quality and HABs. Click HERE to learn more.