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Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey

Project Status: Current / Annual


The Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey is a citizen science program at its best. This all-volunteer effort is studying the fish population of the Inland Bays at 16 sites around the three Bays and their tributaries. 2011 was the first year of this long-term study that will track the changes in the fish community over time.

What it’s like to do a Survey

The project is completed by multiple teams of 3 to 5 volunteers, which sample the sites using seine nets. The teams use 30-foot nets to capture fish which are identified, counted, measured, and returned to the Bays. With more than 100 species of fish known to use the Bays (48 collected in 2018!), teams never know what they will find. 

Get Involved

Interested in helping out with the 2023 survey season? Contact Environmental Science Coordinator, Zachary Garmoe, at zgarmoe@inlandbays.org to find out about current opportunities. Follow the steps below to join us in the field!

Step 1: Attend or Watch the virtual Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey training

Watch it here

Step 2: Review the Frequently Asked Questions

When does the survey occur?

Each team goes out once per month from April through October. Each team goes out on a different day, and the schedule can be viewed below.

How long does the survey take?

Survey times vary based on how many fish are caught at each site. Some teams survey three sites, while others survey five sites, which also influences survey duration. In general, surveys in May take around two hours as fewer fish are caught. Surveys in June, July, and August can take around three hours, while surveys in September and October take around two hours to complete.

Do I need to attend all the surveys if I sign up for a team?

No. You will sign up for a team and be placed on their email list. You can sign up for as many or as few teams as you would like. The team leader will email all signed up members a few days before the scheduled seine with details on meeting time and location. You DO NOT need to attend each survey, only those you wish you help with.

What do I need to bring?

Closed-toed shoes are mandatory! Other than that, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or wet in, and it is always a good idea to bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray. A camera to take photos is also welcome!

Can my children or grandchildren come?

Absolutely! However, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult for supervision.

What if I don’t know how to identify fish species?

Don’t worry, each team has at least one person at each survey that is skilled in fish ID and can help train you and improve your skills.

Where does each team survey?

Teams 1 and 5 survey Rehoboth Bay (starting at the Center’s office near the Indian River Inlet Marina, and ending at Angola Neck Preserve off Angola Neck Road). Team 1 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 5 goes out in the second half of each month.

Teams 2 and 6 survey the upper Indian River (starting at Sandy Beach Drive in Dagsboro, and ending at the Peninsula Community in Long Neck). Team 2 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 6 goes out in the second half of each month.

Team 3 and 7 survey the southern Indian River (starting at the new G. & E. Hocker’s Supermarket at Cedar Neck and Fred Hudson Road, and ending in a community by the James Farm Ecological Preserve off Cedar Neck Road). Team 3 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 7 goes out in the second half of each month.

Teams 4 and 8 survey Little Assawoman Bay (starting at Fenwick Island State Park Bayside, just south of South Bethany, and ending in the Assawoman Wildlife Refuge). Team 4 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 8 goes out in the second half of each month

Can I sign up for more than one team?

Yes! We would love your assistance on as many teams are you would like to join!

What is it like to be a team leader?

Team leaders are responsible for emailing their team members a few days before each seine and making sure they have enough participants to perform the survey. (The absolute minimum number of volunteers for a survey is two people, including the team leader). The team leader also coordinates with other team leaders, Zach Garmoe, and Dennis Bartow to determine how they will get the gear they need for the seine to be completed. You do not need to be proficient in fish identification, though you should know the common species we get, and if you cannot ID a species, you should ensure someone on your team can perform that task at each seine. You are also responsible for making sure the data is collected following the protocol, and that each item on the datasheet is filled out completely and correctly.

If you have any other questions, please contact Zachary Garmoe at 302-226-8105 ext. 710 or zgarmoe@inlandbays.org.

Step 3: Complete and Submit the Sign-Up Form

Open enrollment for the 2023 Fish and Blue Crab Survey begins after the training session on March 8th. For more information, please contact Environmental Science Coordinator, Zach Garmoe at zgarmoe@inlandbays.org.

Step 4: Complete and Submit the Volunteer Liability Waivers*

Volunteer Waiver-Digital App

COVID-19 Waiver: Please fill out and submit the completed form to volunteer@inlandbays.org.

*These waivers are required for each individual or family member participating and they should be completed prior to your survey date. Please note: Individuals under the age of 18 must have an adult chaperone on-hand at all times.

Step 5: Have Fun!

Thank you for supporting the Center’s mission by getting involved with our work! If you would like more information about other volunteer opportunities with the Center, fill out our 2023 Volunteer Application. Another way to support our mission is by donating HERE!

Volunteer Resources/Documents
Fish Monitoring Survey

Click to read the brochure >>

Data and Project Reports


Remembering Ron Kernehan

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, members of the Inland Bays Fish Survey and staff gathered at the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays to remember and honor our friend and colleague Ron Kernehan.

View the slide show.  | Watch Ron in action. | Read our remembrance.

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