Get Involved

Small Scale Sustainable Fisheries

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) alongside of RARE and the Sustainable Fish Group out of UC Santa Barbara are working together in the Caribbean and Coral Triangle.

We have several projects through the Fish Forever that involve working with local fisherman; this collaborative effort is aiming to restore near-shore fisheries in the developing tropic.  We combine three important tools for ocean sustainability – rights-based management reform, marine protected areas, and demand-side incentives – into novel solutions for the world’s fisheries challenges.

Currently we are looking for volunteers to help facilitate the the research and development side of these projects. So if you are interested in sustainable fisheries, coral reefs, marine protected areas, area based management, spatial planning, ecology and biology of reef fish and new method to assess fisheries with limited data; please feel free to contact Kendra Karr for volunteer possibilities, or

CAMEO Kelp forest Database

We are currently looking for motivated volunteers to help us develop a kelp forest online database. The aim of this database is to provide an unprecedented source of information about the species and species interactions that occur in the kelp forest. The project is an extraordinary effort that will help us advance the knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of this complex system, which consists in gathering and synthesizing all the available information published about the kelp forest ecosystem, and in turn making it available for the general public.

If you are interested in working in this project please  contact Emily Saarman at for more information about the CAMEO kelpforest database.

Internships with the Salmon Ecology Team at NMFS

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Internships are available to work with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz. Students will play a key role in conducting ecological research on central coast steelhead and coho salmon. Research and monitoring efforts are conducted primarily in Scott Creek (northern Santa Cruz County). Intern’s time will be split between field and lab work, which includes monitoring juvenile and adult salmon traps in Scott Creek, learning salmon species identification, PIT-tagging salmon, data recording and entry, and gear maintenance.

Email a paragraph stating your background and interest in this internship to Ann-Marie Osterback at


Predator Production in the Kelp Forest

We’re currently in the middle of a very strong year for recruitment of juvenile rockfish – go diving, you’ll see juveniles everywhere!  However, the density of juveniles that settle to the kelp forests of Monterey Bay each year varies markedly.  What does this mean for predators that rely on small fishes as a dietary component or that supplement invertebrate diets with juvenile fishes during strong recruitment years?  Does a high density of juvenile rockfish translate to healthy, fast-growing predators?  We’re looking for volunteers to assist with diet component analyses for thirteen species of rockfishes, collection of field samples (think, fishing!), and analyses of rockfish otoliths to determine variation in annual growth.

This is a great opportunity to develop fisheries research skills and gain experience thinking about fisheries ecology.  To volunteer or learn more, contact Rachel Zuercher, with a short statement of interest.

PISCO Kelp Forest Monitoring

PISCO is an interdisciplinary research program that has been conducting large-scale long-term ecological and oceanographic monitoring along the west coast of North America since 1999. A key aspect of the PISCO program is monitoring kelp forest communities to understand their dynamics and how they are changing in response to recently implemented marine protected areas (MPAs) on California’s central coast. To learn more about PISCO and our interdisciplinary approach to understanding coastal ecosystems and informing coastal resource management and policy, visit

We are looking for motivated AAUS certified scientific divers to help us conduct kelp forest community surveys around the Monterey peninsula next summer. This is a great opportunity hone your kelp forest species identification skills and get experience conducting underwater research. For more information about volunteering for PISCO, contact Emily Saarman at, and fill out this volunteer application to tell us a little about yourself (the form is the same as the one for the rockfish dispersal project, so no need to fill it out twice). We will be conducting dive survey training the third or fourth week of June, 2015.

Larval Dispersal and Connectivity of Nearshore Rockfishes

Many nearshore reef fishes in California have a bipartite life history, which means that after their eggs hatch, larvae spend weeks or months drifting on the ocean currents before settling down to a more sedentary lifestyle as juveniles and adults. But exactly how far these larvae travel during their pelagic stage is one of the great remaining mysteries of marine ecology. Using cutting-edge genetic techniques that allow us to match parents with newly settled juveniles, we will be investigating the larval dispersal patterns of kelp rockfish in Carmel Bay and around the Monterey peninsula.

We have a number of volunteer opportunities associated with this project, including opportunities for AAUS certified scientific divers and non-divers who are interested in getting out in the field. Volunteers will assist in collecting juvenile and adult rockfish, taking fin clips for genetic analysis, and maintaining and deploying collection devices for juvenile fishes. To volunteer or learn more about this project, contact Emily Saarman at, and fill out this volunteer application to tell us a little about yourself (the form is the same as the one for the PISCO kelp forest monitoring, so no need to fill it out twice). To get added to the rockfish project e-mail list as quickly as possible, please sign up at this link and please make sure to fill out your full name (first and last) as your display name, and select “Notify me for every new message” in the email preferences section.

Impacts of sea star wasting on intertidal food webs

Pisaster ochraceusWhat happens when a keystone predator disappears from an ecosystem? How do trophic interactions change? During 2013-2014, sea star wasting disease wiped out populations of the predator Pisaster ochraceus and other sea stars along the west coast. It is unknown how intertidal communities will respond to their absence. During starting in summer 2015, we will be in the RC lab counting mussel recruits collected from the spring field season. During winter and spring 2016, we will be out in the intertidal zone measuring community composition, mussel sizes, mussel spatial distributions, and sea star populations at sites in the Santa Cruz and Monterey area.

We are looking for volunteers for both lab work and intertidal fieldwork. Short-term and long-term commitment levels are both fine. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Monica Moritsch at with a few sentences about your background and why you would like to work on this project.