Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Your Boots Wet!
Experience real, hands-on science.
Go to our calendar and register for upcoming events!
Community service hours available!
Earn your hours with us by participating in an action project!
Forage fish surveys (year-round)
Forage fish are small marine fish that make up a large part of Pacific salmon’s diet. Join us to survey various beaches for sand lance and surf smelt eggs. Sand and gravel samples are collected and processed from local beaches. Samples are then taken to the lab to look for microscopic eggs. Surveys are tide dependent and survey times may vary. No experience necessary.
Pacific Northwest amphibian egg-mass identification workshop and surveys (January–March)
If you are curious about our Northwest amphibians, then this is for you! Every January, Stream Team partners with Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for a fun, informative workshop that will explore the ecology, habitat requirements and life history stages of our local amphibians.
If you like winter adventures and exploring ponds, join us on the hunt for frog and salamander eggs. We count individual egg masses and send data to WDFW to help them understand the changes in amphibian populations in our local wetlands and ponds.
No experience necessary. We prefer you attend the January workshop that will cover general species information of amphibians found in Thurston County and identification skills. Additional training is provided in the field during surveys. Wading boots and safety gear provided. Best suited for ages 9 and up, depending on the ponds being surveyed.
Accumulative Data (updated 2023)
Data from amphibian surveys broken out per year and species of egg masses seen on specific reoccurring pond surveys can be found below.
American Bullfrog Call Survey
Bullfrogs are widespread, and their numbers appear to be increasing. Wildlife managers need our help collecting data to better understand bullfrog distribution. Bullfrogs require a permanent water source and prefer warm open ponds, even stormwater ponds. Bullfrog calls begin at the start of the breeding season around June or earlier if the season is warm. They lay 8,000–120,000 tiny eggs in a thin sheet, on top of pond vegetation. Their numerous eggs hatch out and grow into very large tadpoles, up to 6 inches! The tadpoles take 2–3 years to metamorphose into adults. These tadpoles are also voracious feeders, consuming native frogs, small fish, and even juvenile salmon.
For more information on bullfrog call surveying, please visit whatfrogs.wordpress.com/2017-american-bullfrog-and-green-frog-call-survey. One survey session for a pond lasts about 20 minutes.
How to Conduct a Bullfrog Survey
- Select a survey site.
Bullfrogs are aquatic and need water. Select a site that has freshwater habitat such as ponds, wetlands or stormwater ponds.
- Survey at dusk or after.
From June-August for the most success select an evening without high winds that are 60F or warmer. Bullfrogs are most active in warm weather. Other times of day you may hear frogs, but evenings have proven to be most successful, with the most successful times being near midnight!
- Sit quietly for 10 minutes then collect data for 10 minutes.
After arriving around dusk or after at the survey site, sit quietly for 10 minutes and listen for frog calls. Frogs will stop calling when disturbed and continue after the disturbance has settled. Using the form below, note date and time, survey location, air temperature, wind and habitat type on the data form. Use the call index* on the form. Record if calls are detected and the type of call. Also record if bullfrogs, their eggs or tadpoles are visually detected.
- Fill out data form and submit online to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|*Amphibian Calling Index|
|1||Individuals can be counted; spaced calls|
|2||Individual call can be distinguished, but there is overlapping|
|3||Full chorus, calls are constant, continuous and overlapping|
|4||No chorus calls, only alert calls|
Purple martin monitoring (April–September)
Interested in monitoring purple martins?
Please see the below instruction sheet for details and then record your information on the data sheet. For more information or to return your completed data sheet, contact us at email@example.com.
East Bay nest boxes are located on the pilings at the end of East Bay near Olympia Ave NE and Marine Drive. (Across from Hands On Children’s Museum)
Mid- to late April marks the return of the largest swallows in North America, the purple martin. Strictly a Western Washington species, the martin is the least-common swallow and the only species of martins on this continent. Migrating to the Pacific Northwest and up into Canada from as far away as the Amazon River and southern Brazil, the martins return to their summer homesites delighting us with their aerial acrobatic flights.
From April to September volunteers monitor the martin nest boxes weekly at East Bay in downtown Olympia. Attend a short training on monitoring basics and bird identification. No experience necessary.
Things you can do to help purple martins
- Retain dead and dying trees (snags) on the landscape, especially in forest openings and edges, near saltwater and around ponds and wetlands.
- Avoid using pesticides in areas inhabited by martins (and other birds). Instead, consider natural yard care methods that reduce the need for pesticides.
What’s blooming: Plankton surveys (June–September)
Join the fun virtually! Follow PSI biologists as they discover what plankton species are blooming in Budd Inlet and at your favorite swimming spots this summer! Learn more here…
Every summer, Stream Team partners with Pacific Shellfish Institute (PSI) to see what plankton is present and blooming in and around Puget Sound. PSI will perform plankton sampling activities at the Port Plaza dock on Thursday afternoons.
You can help collect plankton samples and measure temperature, salinity and other water quality parameters. Samples are then viewed under a field microscope to identify what is found.
Other monitoring sites can be visited on select days at Tumwater Falls Park, Tumwater and Long Lake in Lacey. See our calendar for events and locations.
Why sample? During the warm summer months, harmful algae blooms may be detected in Puget Sound. Data results are reported to both the Departments of Health and Ecology to help identify and track harmful algae blooms such as those that produce paralytic shellfish disease toxins.
Stream bug – macroinvertebrate monitoring (July–August)
Aquatic insects are an essential part of the food web and major source of food for juvenile salmon. Benthic macroinvertebrates or “stream bugs” are small aquatic insects that live in the gravel layer at the bottom of a stream. Join us in sampling local streams to determine stream health and macroinvertebrate diversity.
Macroinvertebrates are indicators of stream health. Some species are tolerant of stream pollution and habitat disturbance, while others are very intolerant of disturbances and changes in water quality.
Attend our annual training to learn why “stream bugs” are used as indicators of stream health. The training will cover the monitoring protocol used to gather the samples. As a bonus, our special guest speaker will demonstrate how artificial flies used in fishing imitate native stream bugs.
No experience necessary. We prefer that you attend training, and on-site field training is provided. Wading boots also are provided.
Marine Creature Monday (July–August)
On our website view underwater drone videos and learn about some of our favorite marine critters!
Stream Team partners with local divers and Boston Harbor Marina for hands-on viewing of some of the wonders of Puget Sound’s marine life.
Divers demonstrate their equipment prior to diving to the bottom of the Sound to collect various marine creatures for up-close viewing. As a special treat, guest drone videographer, Matt Balder shares his underwater real-time video so you can see first-hand the fascinating world below the docks. Biologists talk about the different species found, their habitat needs and what is required to keep Puget Sound healthy.
All the marine creatures are kept in sea water for the viewing and then released back into Puget Sound.
This event is available to Thurston County residents only. This event is popular so please only sign up for one Marine Creature Monday per family per year.
Salmon Stewards (August–November)
Learn About Salmon & Teach Others: Be a Salmon Steward!
Each year, adult Pacific salmon make their journey back to local stream where they hatched or imprinted to spawn. Some species travel a short distance, while others swim thousands of miles to complete their life cycle. Imagine learning about this Northwest icon and being able to share the excitement of the salmons return with others. You can—as a Salmon Steward!
All new Salmon Steward volunteers must attend the three basic trainings and at least one of the field trainings. Salmon Stewards learn about the five Pacific Northwest salmon and their life cycles, the four H’s and co-management of salmon in Washington state.
Salmon Stewards “staff” three popular salmon viewing locations:
- 5th Avenue Bridge (late August/September)
- Tumwater Falls Park (mid-September/early October)
- McLane Creek Nature Trail off Delphi Road SW (November/early December)
Each location has its own story related to the history of salmon and people in South Sound. The trainings will provide all the information you need to be successful as a beginner Salmon Steward. All new Stewards are expected to volunteer for at least three shifts (two hours each) after completing training.
Amphibian road monitoring (October–March)
Many of the pond-breeding amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders and newts) migrate seasonally between upland forested habitats and ponds where they breed. During these migrations they often need to cross roads where they risk being run over by vehicles. Where traffic levels are increasing over time, amphibians are at a greater risk of being impacted.
From 2015-2018 Stream Team volunteers participating in nighttime surveys, collected data, counting amphibian mortality. The results of these surveys can be found here.