The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe was the first group in Washington State to contribute to a worldwide coastal biodiversity census through the NaGISA Project. The tribe and volunteers spent a day in June studying the beach at Tala Point, near Port Ludlow, and conducting the standardized NaGISA surveys.

Abigail Welch and John Melovidov take a sediment sample from Tala Point.

The NaGISA Project, derived from the Japanese word for “nearshore zone,” is an international effort aimed at inventorying and monitoring coastal biodiversity while encouraging local communities, students, teachers and researchers to participate. The data collected is entered into a central database that includes information collected from the more than 280 participating groups around the world.

“After helping out with tribal involvement in a NaGisa project in Alaska, I thought that the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe would be the perfect group to do the state’s first site and help get more sites going in the next few years,” said Paul McCollum, the tribe’s natural resources director. “Our staff is out in the water and on the beaches studying this type of information every week.”

Led by tribal project biologist Janet Aubin and the tribe’s habitat biologist, Hans Daubenberger, tribal staff and volunteers studied 15 randomly-selected plots on the stretch of beach, including counting eelgrass strands and invertebrates, and taking sediment and algae samples. Some of the 1-by-1 meter sampling areas had as many as 300 strands of eelgrass, plus a variety of tubeworms, hermit crabs and sea anemones. The samples collected were sorted and identified in the lab. Expert species identification assistance was provided by Sandra Lindstrom, a phycologist and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia.

“This type of global effort to establish baseline biodiversity data is invaluable,” Aubin said. “It will allow us to track changes over time, as well as increase our understanding of the habitat diversity within our region. We hope our participation will facilitate more NaGISA surveys in the area in the future.”

Participants included tribal staff and volunteers from Northwest Indian College, Seattle Aquarium, Point No Point Treaty Council, Evergreen State College, University of British Columbia and a private consulting company.

­­

END

For more information, contact: Paul McCollum, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe natural resources director, at 360.297.6237 or paulm@pgst.nsn.us; Janet Aubin, project biologist, at janet_aubin@yahoo.com; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or troyal@nwifc.org