Now that school is back in, and things are slowing down for this years tourists a bit, locals will likely start going back to some of their favorite saltwater haunts now that they won't be competing with flat-landers from away. Whether it's walking trails in the woods, or walks along the beach, we begin to return to these happy places.

One of the best parts of any jaunt in the outdoors is looking for wildlife. Maybe you're scoping out a new spot for a deer stand, or a duck blind. Or maybe out on the beach you're looking for sand dollars or sea stars. If fact, if you don't mind counting sea stars, the state could really use a little help.

The Shaw Institute and Schoodic Institute are hoping folks could help them out by counting sea stars wherever you may be. From now until September 23rd, scientists are hoping that while you're out and about anyway, that you could take a few snapshots of sea stars you may run into, and share that info so they can get an accurate census.

Back in the early 2000's sea stars were dying off in huge numbers. They've begun to see a substantial uptick in the population in a few spots, but want to see if it's more widespread, according to the BDN. If you are willing to do some counting for them, all they ask is you don't touch the star, and that you snag a photo of it with something to show scale. A ruler would be ideal, but putting your hand in the photo is ok too.

Then, there three ways you can share your photo, according to the BDN:

  1. Upload your photos to iNaturalist, a free smartphone app used for collecting and sharing nature observations.
  2. Post your photos to social media with the tag #WeSeaStars, tagging the location.
  3. Or send your photos, including the location and time when photographed, to hwebber@schoodicinstitute.org.

From there, it's all common sense. Be safe, wear proper footwear, and make sure you have permission to be wherever you are. You'd be surprised how many people forget some of those basic things (I'm pretty much talking to myself here, haha). So go for it til September 23rd, and share those photos!

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