Thursday, April 12, 2018

Join the fun at Earth Day Beach Clean Up in Port Townsend, Saturday, April 21

Washington CoastSavers event sponsored by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center with support from the Port Townsend Food Coop

On Saturday, April 21, volunteers from near and far will celebrate Earth Day weekend by picking up trash and debris along Olympic Peninsula coastlines during Earth Day Beach Clean Up. The annual Washington CoastSavers event is spearheaded locally by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

Because the PTMSC is the only check-in site on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula, scores of people from around the region are expected to register at the PTMSC Natural History Exhibit before heading out to clean area beaches at Fort Worden State Park, Fort Flagler State Park, Fort Townsend State Park, Chetzemoka Park and North Beach.

Check-in time at the PTMSC Natural History Exhibit is 11 a.m. and the debris receiving station closes at 5 p.m.

Once again, the Port Townsend Food Coop is offering valued support for Earth Day Beach Clean Up, providing $5 gift cards to be used the same day for all registered volunteers.

More information, including participant pre-registration, is available on the PTMSC website at:,cntnt01,show_event,0&cntnt01rid=400&cntnt01returnid=58#h1_anchor.

For the latest information about the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, visit and Also, look for #PTMSC and #SalishSea or @PTMarineScience on Twitter and Instagram.

Science is a Team Sport

On Jan. 25, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center hosted an event at IslandWood called the Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit. It was a working conference for people involved in citizen science in the region to get together with the goals of:
  • Discussing how citizen science can best be integrated into and assist the work of practitioners, researchers, organizations and agencies, and 
  • Providing a venue to strengthen communication, collaboration, communities of practice and partnerships focused on advancing Puget Sound Recovery through citizen science

This event was spearheaded by our very own Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson and organized by a committee of individuals from multiple organizations. 

Betsy Carlson and Julia Parrish leading a group discussion. Photo by SymPoint Communications.
Dr. Joe Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society, gave the keynote presentation and made the point that people are having a hard time knowing what to trust these days, but if citizens, and/or their friends and neighbors are involved in the research, they are more likely to trust the results.

Some of the important topics that were generated by the group in the morning and then discussed more in depth in the afternoon were: access to information, collaboration and connection, communication, volunteers, and funding.

Photo by SymPoint Communications

My Citizen Science AmeriCorps position at the PTMSC has been my introduction to citizen science, so this gathering was such a fantastic opportunity for me to get to learn from a passionate and dedicated group of people who have been working in this field for much longer than me. I have a relatively small role in the big picture of citizen science, so this was an opportunity for me to see what I am a part of and get a sense of the needs and goals of the citizen science community of this area moving forward.
Photo by SymPoint Communications
In her closing remarks, COASST Executive Director Julia Parrish, associate dean of the University of Washington College of the Environment, made some points about why citizen science is so important and necessary now more than ever. The first was that humans are moving away from understanding our connection with nature and citizen science can help people reconnect with nature. She also made the point that learning is what keeps us alive; it is what makes us human and citizen science taps into that. One of my favorite points that she made was that science is a team sport and that citizen science is an extension of that team. An article that Parrish co-wrote ends with a paragraph that elaborates on this team sport mentality stating:

“For biodiversity science, the era of ivory tower science is over. We need a paradigm shift, wherein scientists and nonscientists work collaboratively to contend with emergent, large-scale environmental issues. If biodiversity science does not engage nonscientists, as biodiversity and ecosystem services continue to erode, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of a public that may offer local solutions to global problems.” (

The attendees of the Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit who represented projects and programs reported working with over 5500 citizen science volunteers. What a Team! I feel proud to be a part of that team and am excited to see the growth and impacts of it moving forward.

To read the full report from the summit, see []. 

Written by AmeriCorps Citizen Science Educator Lily Evanston.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit 2018 report released

13 educational institutions and programs, 13 local, state and federal government agencies and 15 environmental organizations represented

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center released a report April 11 following the one-day Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit 2018 at IslandWood Retreat on Bainbridge Island, Wash., January 26. Attended by 55 participants representing 13 educational institutions and programs, 13 local, state and federal government agencies and 15 environmental organizations, the goal of the summit was to advance the citizen science community-of-practice dedicated to Puget Sound recovery and conservation.

“The conversation surrounding citizen science programs in Puget Sound – and by extension, the Salish Sea -- began in earnest a decade ago,” said PTMSC executive director Janine Boire. “Citizen science has activated thousands of people in our region to engage in research, which in turn has increased our collective understanding of the state of our marine environment.”

PTMSC Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson said: “We now have an opportunity to further develop our programs and build grassroots support for policy initiatives that are essential to solving the many challenges we face in our efforts to conserve our marine environment.”

Key findings from the summit include: 
  • Reliable data, the stock-in-trade of science, is paramount.
  • Consistent methods, the bedrock for reliable data, require conformity in project applications, sites and time.
  • To ensure robust data management, a coherent system with clarity of ownership and accessibility is fundamental.
  • Communication is crucial, from dialog in recruiting and training volunteers to keeping them in the loop when reporting results.
  • While citizen science is cost effective, it requires equipment and coordination by paid staff and has ongoing overhead costs which are most frequently funded through transitory, short-term grants. 
 The summit was funded in part by a grant from the Satterberg Foundation and organized by the PTMSC with support from numerous organizations, including the University of Washington’s Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, the Northwest Straits Commission, the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Sea Grant and the Washington State University Extension.

The Puget Sound Citizen Science Summit 2018 Report, including proposed next steps, can be downloaded here.

Celebrate Citizen Science Day at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center

The PTMSC is celebrating the nation’s annual Citizen Science Day on Saturday, April 14 with special activities at its Natural History Exhibit and Marine Exhibit at Fort Worden State Park. Visitors can take part in a BioBlitz and tour the redesigned marine exhibit, featuring a new conservation lab. For details, click here
For the latest information about the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, visit and
Also, look for #PTMSC or @PTMarineScience on Twitter and Instagram. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Saturday, April 14: Celebrate Citizen Science Day at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Highlights include BioBlitz and redesigned Marine Exhibit

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is celebrating the nation’s annual Citizen Science Day on Saturday, April 14 with special activities at its Natural History Exhibit and Marine Exhibit at Fort Worden State Park. Visitors can take part in a BioBlitz and tour the redesigned marine exhibit, featuring a new conservation lab. 

The BioBlitz will take place at the Natural History Exhibit from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Our BioBlitz is a fun and intensive study to catalog every living species we can find around the PTMSC and Fort Worden in a single day,” said PTMSC Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson. “We’ll look for birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates, trees, flowers, grasses and more. People of all ages and skill levels are welcome.”

Bioblitz participants will download the free iNaturalist app and create an account before arriving. Observations can be made during the event with a smart phone or with a camera that can upload photos afterward. More details at

Due to limited space for the BioBlitz, please RSVP to AmeriCorps Citizen Science Educator Lily Evanston at There is no admission fee, but donations are encouraged.

From noon to 5 p.m., the PTMSC will be showcasing its redesigned Marine Exhibit on the pier, featuring an all-new conservation lab. PTMSC members are admitted free. For other, the admission fee is $5 for adults and $3 for youths ages 6-17. Children under 6 are free.

“With the help of an ALEA [Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account] grant from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, our visitors will get an even better understanding of the nearshore habitats of the Salish Sea and their importance to human and animals alike,” said PTMSC Executive Director Janine Boire. “As a result, our staff and volunteers have been hard at work during the winter months improving our popular live plant and animal displays.

“We are especially proud of our new conservation lab, which functions as a citizen science demo area and exhibit,” said Boire.

Visitors to the Marine Exhibit will learn about four nearshore habitats -- eelgrass, kelp forest, oyster bed and rocky subtidal -- when interacting with the marine science center's popular tidepool touch tanks and aquarium exhibits. And the newly built conservation lab showcases citizen science projects and programs.

Support for citizen science is a key tenet of the PTMSC mission to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea. Over 3,500 citizens have engaged in nearly 40 projects over a period of 22 years. Popular programs include SoundToxins, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Sea Star Monitoring, the Puget Sound Seabird Survey, the Ocean Acidification Study and Beach Environmental Assessment. Download the 2016 report here.

Because April 14 is a Washington State Parks Free Day, there is no charge to enter Fort Worden State Park and vehicle parking is free at both marine exhibits.

For the latest information about the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, visit and Also, look for #PTMSC and #SalishSea or @PTMarineScience on Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Summer Camps 2018

Join us for a wet, sandy, adventurous, fun-filled week! Check out 2018 camps at

Online Registration:
To register your child for a PTMSC Summer Camp, please click on one of the camps below. You will be directed to the online registration form. Fill out this form once for each child per camp. Payment in full is requested upon completion of the online registration form.

PTMSC members receive $10 off each registration (use promo code MEMBER when registering). If you are not yet a member, we invite you to join today to enjoy this and many other members-only benefits!

Seal Pups Day Camp: 

Ages 3 - 4 | $100

Explore and learn about the beach and sea creatures. Activities will enhance the natural curiosity and vivid imagination of this age group. Campers will spend time outdoors and at the touch tanks with trained and attentive counselors.

Junior Explorers Day Camp: 

Ages 5 - 7 | $160

Spend a week exploring and discovering marine and coastal life, animals, plants, and secret spots. This half-day camp is all about fun, with activities in and around the Marine Science Center. It’s a great program for the younger camper who loves marine animals and exploring on the coast.

Coastal Explorers Day Camp:

Ages 8 - 9 | $285

Ready, set, explore! Examine the varied coastal environments of beach, glacial bluff, forest, pond, and meadow. This is the perfect camp for nature-loving kids who want to explore it all! Using observation skills, campers discover how these places support life in the coastal ecosystem.

Marine Biology Day Camp:

Ages 10 - 12 | $285

Immerse yourself in Marine Biology! Campers engage in exciting classes, labs, and field programs. A few of the many captivating activities include: sieving through goopy sediments looking for brittle stars, pulling a seine net through eelgrass beds to learn where young fish hide and using microscopes to observe the plankton that supports all life in the sea.

Marine Biology Afoot & Afloat:

Ages 11 - 13 | $415

Calling all budding Marine Biologists! This camp takes marine biology skills to the next level through hands-on activities. Students sail aboard Northwest Maritime Center vessels while doing scientific investigations. Ashore, students participate in intertidal surveys and labs in the touch tanks and exhibits. Campers work together as a team while learning to be stewards of the marine environment.


If you have questions about any aspect of camp, please email us at or call us at 360-385-5582 ext 120.

Scholarships are available to those who qualify.

PTMSC Cancellation Policy for Day Camp:

In the event that you can’t make it to camp, PTMSC is happy to refund 75% of the full cost of camp retaining a 25% cancellation fee provided the cancellation request is made at least 30 days prior to the start of camp. After that date, no refunds are made.