Gulf Coast Research Lab recruiting 'citizen scientists'

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast Research Lab is recruiting citizen scientists for an upcoming research project. They're looking for volunteers who will spend several weeks learning more about the impact of the oil spill.

The 20 volunteers chosen for this project must be willing to dedicate six Saturdays beginning in March. They will work alongside scientists studying the long term effects of the BP oil spill. The study will combine classroom and lab work with study excursions on the water.

"We're recruiting volunteers who are going to work with the scientists to learn what their research has found, and help them conduct the research, and then communicate the results of that research to the public," said project organizer Jessie Kastler.

The focus of this study will be the impact of oil and dispersant on the growth of crustaceans, specifically, grass shrimp and blue crabs.

"Grass shrimp are very important at the lower levels of the food web in the coastal Mississippi habitats. And, of course, blue crab is a commercially important species. So, we have a lot of fishermen that are interested in what's going to happen to the blue crab fishery," said Kastler.

GCRL is looking especially for participants who have connections with the gulf and the Mississippi Sound.

"People who have ties to the fishing industry, commercial and recreational fishermen, master naturalists, seafood processors. Anyone who has lived here on the coast and grew up around the water," said GCRL marine educator Aaron Lamey.

Following their six Saturdays of working side by side with the scientists, the culmination of this project will be a community outreach program at the Mary C. O'Keefe Center, where participants will share what they learned with the public.

"This is giving them an opportunity to really work with scientists and learn how science works," said Lamey.

"We have lab work, we have field work, and we have some classroom work that we're going to be scheduling into the agenda for these six Saturdays," said Kastler.

For more information on the program, visit:

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.