Citizen Science

Citizen Science with CRF

Last February, I wrote about CRF’s Citizen Science program and now, almost a year later I had the chance to try out some citizen science and help monitor the coral out-planted by CRF. Our last dive over Christmas was to Pickles Reef – the southernmost location in the north cluster of sites listed on the map.

The CRF citizen science program involves an ios app called OKCoral (they are planning to release an android version as well). There is a training session built into the app as a game (fun!) and then you can use the app to help monitor the coral out-plantings where restoration work is happening.

When the captain suggested we try Pickles Reef, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My plan was to find the coral out-plantings and take lots of pictures. I could fill out the data collection form when we got back. With hindsight, I definitely should have reviewed the data collection form before we got in the water.

We arrived at Pickles reef and started looking for coral outplatings. At first, we didn’t see much and then we found an area that seemed to be planted staghorn coral as far as we could see (& swim). I made a quick judgement call and decided to just try to get a video recording of all the coral we found by following a south to north-ish pattern so we didn’t double up on our counts.

We ended up with over 15 minutes of video – the recording below is less than 3 minutes of excerpts to give you an idea of what we found. There was a good deal of surge so we stayed well above the coral to keep from accidentally knowing anything. During the dive, I remembered thinking, “I have no idea how I’m going to report all this.”

Pickles Reef Coral Outplantings by CRF on 12/05/21; video by Chuck Lauer Vose.

Once we got back to land and looked over the photos and video, I pulled out my phone and opened the OKCoral app.

It was at this point that I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to fill this out and submit anything.

I didn’t know anything about cluster or genotype and it wasn’t clear whether the data would be useful without those details.

It took me a while to realize I needed to tap the help icon. This opened a tutorial document with the rest of the info I needed.

Below are screen shots of the data to collect and where to find it … It turns out, I really needed to find the ID tags attached to each outplanting cluster.

After I found this, I went over all the photos and recordings to see if I could find any evidence of these id tags. So far, the only tag we saw was the one attached to the staghorn coral at the end of our dive. I did try to rub the algae off of the tag in order to read it, but it was very thick and tough and I didn’t have the right tools with me to clean it without potentially damaging something.

I’m planning to ask the CRF staff to show me where to look for these tags. Hopefully I’ll have better luck collecting all the info we need to fill our the report next time.