COVID-19 And The Last Beached Bird Survey?

So just what are we to do with our citizen-science projects when COVID-19 derails the best-laid plans?

Last Beached Bird Survey

This March we headed back out to La Push and the Olympic National Park to conduct our monthly COASST beached bird survey. This time of the year, you never know what kind of weather you’ll encounter, but it looked like Mother Nature was going to give us a break. We had perfect weather for the survey; cool and sunny.

What we weren’t counting on was how quickly the COVID-19 virus was going to spread through the Puget Sound corridor of Washington and the impact it would ultimately have on families and businesses in our area…and the impact on the various science projects we participate with.

I might have taken a little more time to savor this special ‘wild place’ had I known it was going to be the last survey for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t until we were on the long drive home that we started hearing about the closures in our state. As the day went on the list grew longer and longer.

By the end of that week, I was furloughed and as I write this it’s uncertain when I’ll be resuming my role as Senior Database Administrator. Things are looking up as the projected peak has been slowly shifting to the left and, at least for Washington State, seems to have passed. That’s the good news, but it’s to be seen how long the ‘shelter-at-home’ will be active.

Wild and scenic rivers

wild and scenic rivers project a huge success

As a team, we more than tripled the amount of data to date. We’ve received 573 completed surveys from 91 rivers this year, compared to 183 surveys from 41 rivers in 2020.

We’re proud to have been a part of this effort! We’re working on articles and videos so stay tuned. 

COVID-19

There doesn’t seem much need to go in all the details of this virus as there’s plenty of news being thrown at us from all directions. But what do we know about this virus and how can we as citizen-scientists help combat it?

Here’s a link to Coronavirus 101: What you need to know.

It has stopped our going out into the field as that would require us interacting with people in a support role to get to the backcountry. And here in Washington public lands are currently closed.

But that doesn’t mean we can contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Here are some sites where you can use this time at home to help solve this crisis:

 

So just what are we to do with our citizen-science projects when COVID-19 derails the best-laid plans?

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Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
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Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
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Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

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Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

Latest Instagram

Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

Just published our latest adventure - Hit and Run at Bear Creek - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

At the mouth of the Columbia River stands the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Still active, she’s been guiding mariners since 1856. ...

A multitude of grey defines Lake Crescent during our latest #COASST survey. ...

The old Navy torpedo warehouse located on the grounds of Washington’s Manchester State Park. ...

While out dodging the rain showers, came across this beautiful Amanita muscaria near camp. The cap was a big as a dinner plate! ...

During our recent science trip to Suiattle River for the Wild and Scenic River Project, we were treated to these wonderful views. Here we're enjoying the winter's day with Mt. Baker in the background. ...

Our collection site for the Wild and Scenic River project. We grabbed river samples as well as tested ph, dissolved O2 and other data points. Turned out to be a great day in the field. ...

Heading out to start the Winter series of collection for the Wild and Scenic River project for Adventure Scientist. ...

These Nootka Rose caught my eye in camp this morning. Sitting here enjoying the fire listening to the geese overhead as they fly south. ...

Bear Canyon just outside Morton Washington is a little pocket of pristine wilderness. ...

Theresa doing her best to imitate the North Head Lighthouse. ...

A bridge span over the Green River. I love the contrast between the texture of the bridge and the fall colors of the background. ...

Here's a sunset from our recent #COASST bird survey at First Beach. The next day it poured rain. I measured over two inches just that afternoon. ...

Uncertain Future

It’s hard to tell when we’ll be able to resume our projects. Long before the ‘shelter-at-home’ order went into effect we decided to halt our trips. There were three major factors that weighed in our decision;

  1. We were in the high-risk age bracket.
  2. Although we would be isolated while in the back-country, we would have to interact with people during supplies runs, fueling, etc. It seemed irresponsible to subjecting ourselves and others.
  3. It seemed disrespectful to the health caregivers who risked their lives and suffering such hardships while we continued doing what we loved.

Currently, it looks like our state has a projected 0-death day around May 10th. With any luck, life will start to return to normal shortly thereafter. When it does will be back out there doing what we can to contribute to science and conservation.

Stay healthy and safe everyone!

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