Natural Resources Monitoring Volunteers

A person looking through telescope at birds, two people examining herp trap and group of people examining herp trap

NPS Photo

The mission of the National Park Service is always consistent: to preserve and protect the land’s resources for the enjoyment of this and future generations. How can we successfully preserve and protect the species that call our park home, if we do not know their characteristics and behaviors? That’s where our volunteers come in! Currently, Cabrillo National Monument is conducting several long-term surveys and monitoring efforts: Tidepool Monitoring, Shorebird Monitoring, Terrestrial Bird Surveying, and Herpetofauna Monitoring. Though these are separate volunteer positions, their findings help us connect the dots of the park’s overall ecosystem its changes.


Tidepool Monitoring

Two people crouch close to the tidepools during a low tide to take various measurements in between the grooves of the ground. In the distance, gentle waves crash on the shore underneath a cloudless, blue sky.

NPS Photo

Since 1990, this park has been engaged in a long-term monitoring effort of the rocky intertidal zone. During the year, volunteers accompany park scientists as they track key species alongside the tidepool’s Zones 1, 2, and 3. The types and amounts of these findings are recorded and analyzed to determine any patterns, potential issues, and efforts to keep the tidepools protected!


Shorebird Monitoring

Shorebird Monitoring volunteers contribute to the tidepool data by counting both shorebirds and people in the tidepools and by recording sea and weather conditions. Alongside the tidepool monitoring efforts, this data is used to determine how birds interact with the tidepools and how human traffic affects this interaction in the rocky intertidal zone!


Terrestrial Bird Surveying

As a biodiversity hotspot, Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument are both well-known in the birding community as two of the most popular bird-watching spots in San Diego. In fact, during the fall and spring, our park is a resting stop for hundreds of species of birds passing through their migratory paths! You can typically find Terrestrial Bird Surveying volunteers with a pair of binoculars, walking around the park to identify and record more than 200 species of birds at Cabrillo National Monument!


Herpetofauna Monitoring

A park volunteer and park ranger in outdoor clothing and safety vests crouch on a dirt path by a ½-foot cloth fencing and handle a snake and lizard trap for monitoring. Around them are pockets of green-and-gray plants with sprinklings of yellow poppies.

NPS Photo

Cabrillo National Monument is home to six species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, and one type of amphibian—all of which are known as herpetofauna. Unfortunately, urban development, habitat fragmentation, and land use changes have led to the decline of these species. Because of their sensitivity to environmental disruptions, these reptiles and amphibians are monitored as ecosystem health indicators.

Using pitfall trap methodology, Cabrillo National Monument staff and Herpetofauna Monitoring volunteers safely track these species through bucket traps dug into the ground connected by “drift” fencing and through funnel snake-traps along the fence lines. This long-term data helps parks scientists analyze trends in diversity, distribution, and abundance to protect these species that live in the rare, coastal scrub habitat.

Interested in participating in the park’s monitoring efforts and learning more? To find out more about availability and eligibility, please contact for current and upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Last updated: March 21, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
San Diego, CA 92106


619 523-4285

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