STREAM to Sanctuary

a student recognition program in partnership with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

CSCR staff accompanied CSCR researchers on a visit to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary's office to view a screening of the documentary, Collision. "As we saw in the documentary, the majority of whale species are endangered due to sea travel and other human activities. A proposed solution was to minimize our consumption of consumer goods and not expect instantaneous delivery, which is something that would have such a small impact on our daily lives but could, together, be a massive contribution towards protecting oceanic ecosystems."

-Laila Al Rashid, senior, Cohasset High School

Over the last two weeks, we've opened the newsletter with a reminder about our mission: "engage students in the civic and scientific study of the local watershed and marine environment to inspire stewardship of our planet’s ecosystems."

We also called attention to a program we're calling a Semester at C. While we're not yet rolling out the details, let's imagine a semester's worth of study and real world learning that leads to a culminating credential.

Today, that credential is the STREAM to Sanctuary Certificate of Watershed Stewardship. And the students featured below are making their presentation today to personnel at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Listen to what they have to say.

"As students and young researchers, we have been able to develop through our participation in research projects in partnership with the sanctuary. We are discovering more about ecological processes, the maritime environment, and the value of sustainability. This information not only advances our academic careers but also molds our individual perspectives on environmental responsibility." - Dune Grass Research Team, October 2023 document submitted to SBNMS

Ammophila breviligulata

Our study on Ammophila breviligulata is a direct contribution to the purpose of the sanctuary and the well-being of coastal communities. Coastal resilience is deeply affected by our research on this remarkable plant species. On Bassings Beach Island, our efforts to understand and stabilize dune grass populations play a vital role in safeguarding our community against the challenges of storm surges, strong winds, and rising water levels.

GIS Technology: A Bridge to Understanding

Geographic Information System (GIS) technology plays a vital role in the research that influences the precautionary measures of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. It allows researchers and conservationists to collect, decipher, and visualize complex spatial data on different species and natural resources within the sanctuary's ecosystem. This technology is used to map the distribution of marine species, migratory routes, and changes in habitat locations over time. It helps identify endangered areas and formulate conservation plans. Additionally, GIS aids in responding to unforeseen events or catastrophes, such as oil spills, guiding quick and effective responses.

Incorporating GIS into Our Research

At the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research (CSCR), the Dunegrass Team also incorporates the use of GIS technology in our research of dune grass. We calculate the percent coverage of dune grass in different areas along Bassings Beach Island, and this data is then input into ArcGIS for analysis. The use of GIS technology allows us to observe data points along the beach, enabling us to determine critical aspects of the grass, such as its health. The health of dune grass is crucial, as its roots are essential for preventing erosion and providing habitat for numerous species, including piping plovers. Our project is evolving with the integration of drone technology and machine learning, creating a convolutional neural network that can autonomously determine percent coverage. This advancement will reduce human traffic through the dune grass, preserving its health and ecosystem. Our technological development aims to collect more data for making informed conclusions about dune grass, which is vital to our town officials.

The Importance of Our Oceans

Over the past two summers, I have had the pleasure of participating in the Bacteria Monitoring research team, and this past summer I recently joined the Watershed Quality Monitoring team. Within the Bacteria Monitoring student research group, I sampled and recorded the weekly quantitative number of enterococcus faecalis per one hundred milliliters of oceanic water. The most valuable part of my team and I’s research, however, was determining the connection between environmental conditions and high numbers of bacteria. We found that heightened rain led to an increase in the most probable number of bacteria, which could be attributed to a variety of factors. Most importantly, however, was the connection of bacterial numbers to the health of the harbor, and vicariously, the health of the Stellwagen Bank. The first signs of pollution from runoff, fecal matter, sewers, and septic systems would be determined from the point of its origin, in this case, Cohasset. In addition, heavy rain and flooding in the South Shore could potentially release sewage materials into the ocean, making Cohasset a key puzzle piece in determining the most prevalent sources of oceanic contamination. Additionally, the data from Cohasset oceanic sites is indicative of broader ecological trends that can be seen across coastal communities, especially Hingham, my town of residence. My research at the center has allowed me to better understand the oceanic health of my own town as well as those of the surrounding area.


TGIS Number 46 October 6 2023

STREAM to Sanctuary

Cohasset Center
for Student Coastal Research
40 Parker Ave
Cohasset, Massachusetts 02025
(781) 383-0129
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