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WildCam Vashon

WildCam Vashon is a program of Vashon Nature Center (VNC) that uses a variety of wildlife camera technologies to test and improve fish and wildlife surveys and to make them more accessible for community science efforts. With support from CREOi this year, VNC improved our wildlife camera network by creating a wildlife camera database that is easy to use for volunteers and allows for storage, sorting and analysis of large amounts of data. We also installed a livestream underwater marine camera at one of our existing shoreline survey sites to explore this as a viable option for conducting fish use surveys while doubling as a public outreach tool.

WildCam database: We supported and co-managed 5 interns over the summer and fall months of 2021 in partnership with University of Washington and Anecdata.org. These interns collected feedback from VNC master volunteers in a total of 3 different meetings. Volunteers provided feedback on use improvements for the WildCam database. The interns then worked on creating additional functionality that was applied to our project. These tools are now also supported on the platform for use by any other project using Anecdata to store and explore data. This platform is much easier for our volunteers to use than our old system and we are getting more engagement. It also takes less staff time to organize. The database provides a sound and accessible platform for general monitoring of wildlife populations on the island. We will continue to work with Anecdata and University of Washington as time and resources allow to increase the analysis functions and improve a few other functions like a video upload feature and batch uploads. Our site is up, running and usable, and available at this link!

Livestream marine camera: We worked with View Into The Blue to install an underwater livestream camera at one of our shoreline study sites, though the feed is not currently active. We also created an online data form where community scientists could conduct 10-minute fish surveys and record what they were seeing on the camera. Families and students helped with fish surveys using the camera feed and VNC offered this as a remote option for part of our summer student internships so that students not on Vashon Island could participate in data collection and research. Tracking fish use over time, we hope to uncover if and how fish use of the restoration site changes as the site ages.

Public engagement and education: Incorporating camera technology and community science into wildlife and fish survey methods has the additional benefit of public education and engagement. The marine camera provided a fun outreach venue that has engaged a constituency that we had not been able to engage before, including neighbors of the restoration site, commuters in the ferry line (the site is at the Tahlequah ferry terminal), WSDOT ferry workers and technicians, elderly community members and working parents who all find it hard to join us on our field programs. Our outreach coordinator has been great at sharing clips on our social media platforms which provides continued engagement.

So far, photo footage from our wildlife cameras has been used in a seminar series on carnivores that was a joint effort between VNC and Vashon Center for the Arts. Dr. Laura Prugh spoke on coyote DNA analysis on Vashon and Dr. Mark Elbroch spoke on cougar populations on the Olympic Peninsula. As part of our outreach and engagement for the marine camera we produced a variety of short clips and YouTube videos. Here are a few examples: highlight reel 1, highlight reel 2, Halloween highlight.