Tidepool Monitoring Fosters Discovery and Stewardship

Volunteers Elise Watson and Mario Diaz measure algal turf along a line transect at Cabrillo NM

Volunteers Elise Watson and Mario Diaz measure algal turf along a line transect at Cabrillo NM

NPS Photo

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
Next Generation Stewards
Also Promotes:
Park Pulse
Year Accomplished:

“It is a great way for me to learn new things, meet new people, get outdoors, enjoy the tide pools…and be in a relaxed and enjoyable environment” says volunteer Kristina Guzelian. She is referring to the Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program at Cabrillo National Monument, where urban neighbors, from college students to the general public, can lend a hand. Volunteers discover the rugged yet vulnerable rocky intertidal ecosystem while also contributing to a rigorous long-term scientific data set.

Run by Cabrillo National Monument in collaboration with the NPS Mediterranean Coast Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, the program would be impossible to sustain without the overwhelming contributions of volunteers. There is a lot to do on the ­few days per season when the daytime tides are low enough to expose all of the monitoring plots and transects. There are also only a few short hours each day to work before the tide rises again. New volunteers with a brief orientation behind them can help find and maintain plots, record data, and learn more complex data collection skills from the lead biologist or veteran volunteers. For those with more experience, there are transects to read, owl limpets to measure, additional target species to search for, plots to photograph, and newer volunteers to train. Volunteers also have the chance to engage with park visitors who are inevitably curious about what they are doing.

Beyond learning about rocky intertidal habitats, how they are impacted by human activities, and the importance of consistency in data collection, volunteers come away knowing they have contributed to the stewardship of their coastline. The data they collect helps scientists and park managers understand how to better protect the health of rocky intertidal communities at Cabrillo National Monument and all along the West Coast.