Karen Laverty of PBS affiliate WGBH dropped me a line about a brand new NOVA show premiering on Tuesday 11/25 on PBS.
“Ocean Animal Emergency” shows ocean mammals being rescued from the wild, tagged (see left; photo credit: Doug Hamilton) and released or cared for by the vets and wildlife volunteers (citizen scientists!) from the world-renowned Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA.
The volunteer citizen scientists at the Center racked up 81,000 hours last year and saved the Center an estimated $800,000! After they’re trained, they handle everything from cleaning pens to preparing food, updating medical charts, administering antibiotics and taking blood samples.
“Like canaries in the coal mine,” Karen explains, “the marine mammal populations are a barometer for the health of the world’s oceans.”
Here’s a colorful radio piece I did on a related topic: the Shad (aka: Philadelphia’s fish). Shad move from the ocean to the river to spawn, then return to the ocean. Shad fishermen are often the first to learn about the conditions of rivers. When there’s no shad to be had, pollution is the primary suspect.
If you’re interested in learning how to monitor the water in your area (including the source of your drinking water), the EPA has a national directory of volunteer water monitoring programs. Check it out!