Citizen Science ProjectPlate Watch
  • Boys pulling up a plate

    Photo by Joni Johnson

This project is also known as itunicate. Click here to visit the Invasive Tunicate Network (itunicate). A tunicate is an invertebrate animal that lives in the ocean. itunicate involves teachers, students, scientists and outdoor enthusiasts in mjonitoring non-native species along with West Coast of the United States. This network looks for 8 different species, 3 of which have already been recorded in Alaska.

Click on the links below to learn more about

We provide online training in the form of field guides, detailed descriptions of targeted species and periodic workshops. Volunteers deploy PVC plates from piers and floating docks several times throughout the year, preferably for 3 months over the summer season. When they retrieve the panels we ask them to take a good photograph of the whole plate and post it on the network website, and let us know if they suspect they see any non-native or new species.

An important part of plate watch is spotting these species early so we can prevent the spread of harmful species. You can help by joining our network of volunteers up and down the west coast.


These species were introduced to the West Coast of the United States throughout the last century. The presence and spread of those tunicates could impact native marine ecosystems. They increase fouling or the buildup of organisms on surfaces. This happens a lot on boats and underwater cables—organisms grow and can damage the structures.

Want to get involved?

This is a monitoring activity, so this project is mostly driven by volunteers. If you are interested, click here to learn more. 

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