Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Be a Citizen Scientist with Coastal Watch

May 24, 2021
By Nicole Finnicum
Sanibel Sea School Director
Coastal Watch, an outreach program of SCCF’s Sanibel Sea School, is dedicated to preserving our estuaries and oceans for future generations through initiatives that promote the conservation of our islands. It is important to work locally, so the Coastal Watch team is encouraging the community to get involved to help execute projects that will benefit the Sanibel and Captiva environments.
Coastal Watch is excited to launch a variety of community citizen science projects this summer that will engage the public, promote awareness of these important projects, and create meaningful volunteer opportunities for those who’d like to be citizen scientists.
Propagule Collection and Potting
Through the new Back to Our Roots initiative, Coastal Watch and the SCCF Marine Lab are teaming up to restore mangroves on Southwest Florida barrier islands. Through this program, mangrove propagules are collected, grown, and planted at restoration sites to fortify existing mangrove ecosystems and coastlines.
Volunteers are needed for red mangrove propagule collection the week of Monday, June 21 through Friday, June 25. Buckets will be available for pickup at Sanibel Sea School throughout the week. Full buckets need to be returned by noon on Friday, June 25. Propagule potting will take place at the SCCF Nature Center on Friday, June 25, at 2pm.
Based on interest, Coastal Watch will facilitate more propagule collection and potting sessions throughout the summer months.
Red Tide Monitoring
Coastal Watch is one of many organizations in Southwest Florida that have been working with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to record red tide data using the HABscope (HAB = harmful algal bloom) system. The HABscope is a microscope that utilizes an iPod to record 30-second videos of water samples to determine the sample’s level of Karenia brevis, which is the dinoflagellate algae that causes red tide.
Volunteers are needed to collect water samples at Lighthouse Beach and bring them to Sanibel Sea School to be counted via HABscope starting Monday, June 7. Water samples will be collected every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Sample collection and analysis take about an hour. We may increase sampling frequency during the summer if red tide is present in our area.
If you are interested in assisting with any of these projects or have any questions, please contact Coastal Watch’s Conservation Initiative Coordinator Kealy McNeal at


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