Join the North Sound Stewards volunteer program and connect with a group of people passionate about protecting the North Puget Sound. 

We train residents of Whatcom County to become citizen scientists and participate in beach surveys —  an important role to play in protecting our marine species and habitats. Become a citizen scientist today.

Volunteer groups led by marine scientists will observe sea stars, forage fish, intertidal species, and more to gather data that will help protect these species' habitats and longevity. Information collected through citizen science efforts provides a baseline of data that informs policy, restoration efforts, cleanups, and other important projects. 

Citizen scientists are integral to support important work that underfunded agencies cannot do themselves.

Registration for the 2020 season is open until January 12th!

No matter your level of experience, you can build your skills and help protect vital marine species and habitats.

North Sound Stewards

Sign up for North Sound Stewards and become a trained citizen scientist who helps contribute to scientific research for the health of the Salish Sea. Program details:
            • Must complete 50 hours of trainings and surveys throughout a one-year period. There are several surveys to choose from; details below.
            • Program participation can reflect your individual interests and skills: Photography, data entry, and event coordination are some options.
            • Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome to join.
            • Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Sign up or explore our full list of citizen science volunteer opportunities!

Discover what it's like to be a citizen scientist in our Clean Water Blog:

Citizen scientists hit the classroom and the beach to study Puget Sound's intertidal zones (May 2017)
Volunteers, scientists uncover good news during sea star surveys at Cherry Point (February 2017)

Where do I volunteer?

The North Sound Stewards volunteer program focuses on intertidal surveys, sea star wasting syndrome surveysforage fish surveys, and more in the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves, and with our partners at the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee and the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committees.

Plastics monitoring 

When you go to your local beach, take out your smartphone and log what marine debris you find. This will help NOAA assess what and where marine debris is accumulating to help better understand how we can start tackling this issue better. We’re testing the EPA protocol, which will help determine policy actions that can better manage plastics entering our waterways.
Dates: variable, once per month March - October

Intertidal surveys 

Participate in our intertidal survey trainings to learn how to identify and count plant and animal species in the intertidal zone, the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide. Then join our summer of intertidal surveys, where you'll measure plant and animal life and study the slope and sediment of beaches in Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Whatcom: Boulevard Park June 3rd and 4th, Barnacle Rock June 18th, Neptune Beach July 2nd;
Skagit: Fir May 20th (or TBD), Bowman Bay July 17th, Custom Plywood July 30th, NW March’s Point August 2nd

Forage fish surveys

Pacific herring, sand lance, surf smelt, and other forage fish are key to the health of marine food webs throughout the Salish Sea. They are fuel for endangered seabirds, salmon and orcas. They are bait for fisheries and a tasty treat to many people. Join volunteers to survey beaches for forage fish spawning grounds and help contributed to data shared with state agencies and local governments.

Dates: Monthly

Other citizen science opportunities

Explore our full list of citizen science opportunities. Whether your goal is to become a SUPER volunteer with the North Sound Stewards program or you can only occasionally volunteer, here are some ways to get involved:
  • Kelp: Join the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee for surveys by kayak each summer.
  • Water quality: Join the Northwest Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for monthly surveys. 
  • Green crab: Get additional training with Washington Sea Grant and become an expert in spotting invasive green crabs. These surveys happen monthly, and occur over two days.
  • Ocean acidification: Join the Northwest Straits Surfrider Foundation for quarterly surveys.
  • Bird: Join seasonal surveys each winter at the Cherry Point or Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves.

More about Washington’s Aquatic Reserves
Washington’s coasts are incredibly important — ecologically, economically, and culturally. Volunteers like North Sound Stewards, the state Department of Natural Resources, and other stakeholders are key to fostering citizen-led, science-based management of Washington’s unique shorelines at the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves. The mission of our state’s eight Aquatic Reserves is “to bring together partners to inspire science-based stewardship of Washington's exceptional aquatic resources.” Check out this video overview of the Aquatic Reserves program, and this video focused on Cherry Point, Whatcom County’s local aquatic reserve.

More information 

Contact Eleanor Hines at for more information about North Sound Stewards.