During the course of a ten-year detailed shoreline monitoring program in Prince William Sound it became evident that the author's annually repeated, human-scale time-series color photos of recovering shoreline sites inspired appreciation of the variability of shoreline marine life on the part of managers, citizens and educators. One of these sites is “Mearns Rock”, a segment of an oiled “set-aside” shoreline centered on a human-sized boulder. With the help of staff and citizen volunteers, this remote site has been photographed every summer for 26 years yielding a human-scale view of dramatic year-to-year changes in the abundance of mussels, seaweeds and other inter-tidal marine life. In the years following oiling in 1989, seaweeds and mussels flourished, but a few years later the oil was gone and the scene was barren of life: a few years after that, life again flourished. Indeed, life on “the Rock” has undergone four major episodes of boom and bust during the past quarter century, testifying to the huge variability that would otherwise not be noticed by people other than scientists and their time series graphics buried in reports. In this paper I present the inspiration for the continued photo-monitoring, the contributions by volunteers, the photos and associated graphics, and especially examples of how the photo-series has been used in web-sites, films and books to inspire students, educators, staff and managers to learn more about variability of marine life and how difficult it is to determine when an injured resource has “recovered”. An accompanying poster will offer details about the photo-monitoring at this and eight other sites in the Sound.

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Author notes

1 Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, WA 98115