Today Chris MacLachlan came in to look at plankton under the microscope on her day off due to an algal bloom in the water! She, like many other Citizen Science Volunteers (well trained community members that help with scientific research), spend time helping the Marine Science Center gather baseline data for an ongoing research project to monitor toxic phytoplankton in the Puget Sound for NOAA. PTMSC has three different sampling sites: Mystery Bay, the PTMSC dock and the Maritime Center. Volunteers measure: dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature and environmental data. From Spring to Fall our Sound Toxin volunteers look at both whole water samples and concentrated plankton net tows under the microscope to see if toxic algae are present, do cell counts and preserve samples to send for further research by NOAA. This will later get processed to see if the toxins are staying in the cells or if they are leaching out in the the water. We hope that overtime this baseline data will help show if there is a correlation between environmental conditions and the levels of toxic plankton in the Puget Sound.
Chris MacLachlan has been with the Marine Science Center for over 10 years and has been helping with the Sound Toxins project for over 3 1/2 years. She said she never considered herself an invertebrate research type of person...but PTMSC has gotten the best of her!
Thank you to all of our volunteers, we wouldn't be the organization we are without your support.