This past Saturday marked World Oceans Sampling Day, an event dedicated to taking a global snap shot of oceanic, microbial diversity and water health. Having one of the largest and longest protected intertidal benches on the West Coast, Cabrillo National Monument was asked to participate. Though I have been a marine biologist for quite sometime, I have never taken microbe samples and was excited for the opportunity. All that was needed were two small filtered samples. Easy,IMG_1532 right?




Microbial sampling seems like a relatively simple process. Push 5 liters of water through an infinitely small filter using only a 60 ml syringe. Twice. That is until you have completed only 10 filtrations out of 83 and you have absolutely zero arm strength left.


Needless to say, Being the low tide that it was, the crazy looking girl with the syringe and ‘sciencey’ looking things tends to attract a fair amount of attention. After explaining to about a million kids what a microbe even was…. Opportunity struck me.


“Hey, do you guys want to be scientists too? Want to help me get all the microbes into this filter?”


IMG_1535After about 5 minutes, I had a line of eager, young volunteers. Work was done in little over 30 minutes…probably a quarter of the time it would have taken me all by my lonesome.


Not only did the work get done, but the kids learned something and were given the opportunity to take ownership of the science happening in their park.


Moral of the story… Always keep your eye out for the chance to engage the power of the ‘opportunistic volunteer.’


To learn more about World Ocean Sampling day please visit: