Citizen science in the L.A. River expanding

May 6, 2015

The Friends of the Los Angeles River organization is expanding its citizen science monitoring of fish in the Los Angeles River to additional locations, reported Carren Jao in KCET Columns.

Since 2008, the volunteers have been catching fish in Elysian Valley of the L.A. River and delivering them for analysis to three biologists, including Sabrina Drill, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County. The biologists found that the fish caught here were healthier and lower in mercury and PCBs than fish in the ocean. The surprising finding is likely due to the natural river bottom in the Glendale Narrows portion of the river.

Now volunteers will be turning their attention to parts of the L.A. River in Long Beach and the Sepulveda Basin to establish a baseline for those areas.

Citizen scientists can also help document the state of the L.A. River by contributing to a project created by UC ANR's Sabrina Drill on the web and smartphone app iNaturalist. Anglers can take a smartphone photo of their L.A. River catch and upload it to iNaturalist. The smartphone automatically records the time and day, and the GPS coordinates where the fish was caught. Much like iNaturalist does for birds, lizards, and insects, the L.A. River fish page creates a digital community where fishermen can boast of their accomplishments, but also build a record of the river's biodiversity using their smartphones.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist