Citizen Science Oahu Hawaii 2018-04-19T03:57:51+00:00

Citizen Science Conducted on Wild Side Charters (and you can too!)

Ocean conservation starts with connection. As we build personal relationships with the ocean and its wildlife, we become stewards of the marine environment.

Green Sea Turtles

Green sea turtle with etched number on its shell in non-toxic paint on the shores of French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Marylou Staman).

Every year green sea turtles travel 12-hundred miles round trip on a migration from foraging habitats in Hawaii to nesting areas in the French Frigate Shoals of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Each year, researchers spend several months monitoring Honu (as they are known in Hawaii) nesting activity, counting nests and keeping track of growing populations. To do that, they set up camps and spend days and nights tagging, and logging every turtle they see.  This year, over 400 nesting turtles were tagged, and identifying numbers painted on their shells. Once important habitats are known, turtles can be better managed, especially for nesting females.

If you see a numbered turtle, without disturbance take down the number or take a picture and report it to NOAA by calling 1-888-256-9840 or send an email to


Humpback whales are identified by markings on their flukes.

HappyWhale engages citizen scientists (our guests too!) to identify individual whales for fun and science. Whales, as individuals, have compelling stories to tell: where will this humpback migrate this winter to give birth? Did the whale with scars from a killer whale attack survive another year? What happened to the entangled whale I saw in the news?

Unique identifiable markings on a whale’s flukes (tail) and dorsal fin allow us to non-invasively track whale movements, and stories over time. By focusing on whales, we bring attention to the marine ecosystem as a whole and the challenges we face as a global community.

Photos of your marine mammal encounters are submitted. Happywhale identifies your whales by their unique markings, and tracks your whales around the globe where you can updated on news.

 Have some extra time to get virtually involved? Snapshots at Seafilters through photos submitted to HappyWhale where you will answers questions about photo submissions, such as:

  • Is there at least one animal in this photo?
  • Are there whales or dolphins in this photo?
  • Is there more than one whale or dolphin in this photo?
  • Is there a dorsal fin in this photo?
  • Is there a fluke (tail) in this photo?
  • Is this fluke a Humpback Whale?

Snorkeling with Whale Shark, Oahu Hawaii

Whale Shark Sightings

The Wildbook for Whale Sharks photo-identification library is a visual database of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) encounters and of individually cataloged whale sharks. The library is maintained and used by marine biologists to collect and analyze whale shark sighting data to learn more about these amazing creatures. The Wildbook uses photographs of the skin patterning behind the gills of each shark, and any scars, to distinguish between individual animals. Cutting-edge software supports rapid identification using pattern recognition and photo management tools. You too can assist with whale shark research, by submitting photos and sighting data. Information submitted will be used in mark-recapture studies to help with the global conservation of this threatened species.

The ‘cliffs’ in the background are coral reef formed when the sea level was higher…

Hawaii King Tides Project

With the snap of a photo, you can become a citizen scientist and help researchers learn more about the effects of sea level rise from what is known as “king tides.” Photos taken during Hawaii’s king tides are giving scientists a glimpse into what our future coastlines may look like. King tides is a common name given to the highest predicted tides that occur only a few times a year.

The information collected will go into a worldwide database that will help researchers, planners and the community plan for the risks from rising sea level caused by climate change. “Whether its removing and relocating buildings or structures, or thinking about our infrastructure in different ways, we are now starting to collect hopefully a long term data set that can really both educate the public but be very useful in the decisions,” said Gonser. “Using that information we can say ok, at some future date where its predicted to be 3 feet of sea level rise this is what our shoreline might look like.” said Gonser.

To learn more information on how to participate in the Hawaii King Tides Project visit

Oahu Seabird Aid Program

Found a seabird? Click here to find out what to do next.

Wedge-tailed shearwater and spotted dolphin cooperatively fish

The Hawai‘i Wildlife Center provides

aid to downed seabirds on Oahu during the peak of seabird fallout season. Each year young seabirds such as wedged-tailed shearwaters fledge from their nest for the first time. The species evolved to fledge at night and use moonlight to navigate their way out to sea, but with the arrival of humans and artificial lighting that natural phenomenon has been interrupted. The young birds can become confused by lights from airports, street lamps, buildings, and homes. In their confusion they will circle to the point of exhaustion or sometimes collide with these lighted structures. Once they are downed they often need human assistance to return to flight or else they are highly vulnerable to predation, starvation, or vehicle strike. The island of Oahu typically sees several hundred to over a thousand downed seabirds each year.

Remote Volunteer Opportunities

  • Fundraising
  • Marketing
  • Special events on neighbor islands
  • Writing
  • Professional/Technical Assistance
  • Transportation-Driver <- HWC needs more neighbor island rescue drivers, especially on Oahu!
  • Transportation-Pilot

Eyes on the Reef

Diseased or Bleached Coral? Click here to find out what to do next.

A trumpetfish hovers over bleached coral 🙁

The future for corals is not something to be predicted by computer models; it is plainly obvious for all to see” Charlie Vernon – who discovered and described 20% of all coral species in the world.  Reef Reminiscences (pdf)

Hawaii’s reefs span an enormous geographical area making it difficult for resource managers to detect the early onset of coral bleaching, disease, Crown-of-Thorn and invasive species outbreaks.  Reef users are essential in helping managers monitor reefs, providing the critical mass of ‘eyes on our reefs’ needed to detect and respond to events in an expedient manner.  The goal of the EOR is to inform, engage and train community members, ocean user groups, managers, NGOs and others in identification of coral bleaching, disease or COTS outbreaks and aquatic invasive species. The EOR Network is a broad outreach and education program that helps to provide the critical first tier of Hawaii’s Rapid Response Contingency Plan and promote community stewardship of our valuable marine resources.

Training Opportunities – all islands

Report Opportunities