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Otter Spotters: FieldScope Training to Report Your Findings

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Event description

When the River Otter Ecology Project in California —a beacon of conservation and community science—had the chance to expand across America, they chose two rivers that pulse with life and promise. One of those rivers? Our very own Elizabeth River!

Our goal is to build a grassroots team of community scientists and local stewards in the Elizabeth’s watershed who study river otters. The purpose of Otter Spotter is to give everyone the chance to
contribute meaningful data to help expand our understanding of river otters in the Elizabeth River.

In this training, FieldScope's Jessica Bean will provide you with tools that help you report your findings and investigate your questions as we expand our database of Elizabeth River otter data. Using FieldScope, Otter Spotters like you will create a unique FieldScope account, report the date, time, and location of their river otter sightings and river otter sign (e.g., scat!). Photos and videos of your sighting are highly encouraged!

Jessica will also prepare you to create maps and other ways of looking at local data to share with your community, at your school, or with otter (other) members of your family! Join us as we learn and share more about river otters in the Elizabeth River!

Come early for an optional tour of the Elizabeth River Project's Ryan Resilience Lab at 4:30pm.

The program will be a partnership of the Elizabeth River Project, the River Otter Ecology Project and FieldScope. FieldScope is developed by BSCS Science Learning in collaboration with UC Berkeley and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

For the Elizabeth River Project, the program is part of the Ryan Resilience Series, made possible by Virginia Natural Gas.

THE MISSION of the non-profit Elizabeth River Project seemed almost impossible when we started 30 years ago: To turn around the health of an urban river at the time presumed dead, with high rates of cancer in fish. These decades later, fishermen flock to the Elizabeth River, also known as the military and commercial harbor of Norfolk, VA, for some of the best fishing in the region. Otters and dolphin are back. The 2023 scorecard by area scientists for the first time gives the river several grades of “A” for overall water quality. More than 6,500 residents, 56 schools and 148 businesses participate with us as “River Stars,” voluntarily doing their part to reduce pollution and restore wildlife habitat.

However, an existential threat looms over the health of this ecosystem and its communities. Norfolk is experiencing the highest rate of relative sea level rise on the East Coast. As the river overflows normal bounds, reaching far into city blocks and then receding, it loads the Elizabeth with a toxic soup. Also unraveling the Elizabeth River Project’s pioneer progress with restoring wetlands, the rising seas are predicted to drown as much as 80 percent of this river’s marshes over the next 50 to 70 years.

Virginia Natural Gas with its signature gift for 2023 will make possible the first programming for our nationally important answer, the Ryan Resilience Lab, 4610 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, VA. Many coastal communities experience our challenges. The Ryan Lab will present a global model for how to live, work and play in the urban flood plain as sea levels rise. While final construction is still underway for the grounds and some of the green systems, we can’t wait to start programs. With special thanks to Virginia Natural Gas, we’re launching the Ryan Resilience Series in November 2023 with some of the freshest programming on sea level resilience anywhere.

You’re invited! Presenting present and future challenges and solutions for humans and the ecosystem as sea levels rise. Fresh, inspiring, thought-provoking programs in art, history and science, with a priority for engaging marginalized communities. All programs include optional, provocative tours of the Ryan Lab, designed with resilient technologies replicable to the public.

For more information on the Ryan Resilience Series, please contact Jamie Melvin, jmelvin@elizabethriver.org, 757-399-7487

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