The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) will be hosting a Beached Bird Training Session from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at Netarts Community Club. This training is for perspective volunteers in the long running beached bird survey COASST conducts in all the west coast states.
Through an interactive, hands-on workshop, trainees will become acquainted the custom COASST field guide, “Beached Birds,” and have a chance to try out their newly acquired identification skills on seabird species common to the North Pacific. The COASST training provides participants with the tools to monitor for potential changes in the marine environment and promote stewardship of local marine resources.
Participant Coordinator Jackie Lindsey said she goes once a year to a given area to check in on volunteers and the data. She said when there is large die-off events or strange changes, they try to check. There are many factors that can affect a bird’s mortality, such as an oil spill being involved.
COASST is a citizen science project of the University of Washington in partnership with state, tribal, and federal agencies, environmental organizations and community groups. COASST believes citizens of coastal communities are essential scientific partners in monitoring marine ecosystem health. By collaborating with citizens, natural resource management agencies and environmental organizations, COASST works to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions. Currently, nearly 1,000 volunteers survey beaches in Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska.
“People are seeing a lot of birds washing up on beaches and wondering why,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said there is a pattern of natural mortality. Other things that can affect the mortality rate include chronic changes, climate change, and more. A warm pool of water shifted a lot in the ocean, Lindsey said as an example. Surveyors are able to see normal and unnatural deaths.
“We are able to identify when it is out of whack,” Lindsey said of the mortality types. “We are able to recognize as it is happening.”
Lindsey said COASST is great because observers are trained. People who live on the coastline train to become experts and can contribute data.
Volunteers need no prior experience with scientific data collection, just a commitment to survey a specific beach at least once a month.