First Survey on New COASST Beach

We decide to move to a new COASST beach after years of surveying Toleak Beach. The bonus is the new beach is full of fossils.

coasst bird surveys

The COASST Sea-Bird Program at the University of Washington is one of the most successful and innovative programs in the field of marine biology. Established in 1998, the program was designed to monitor the health of sea-bird populations along the Pacific coast of North America, from California to Alaska. The program has since expanded to include additional regions, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast.

The COASST Sea-Bird Program utilizes a unique citizen science approach in which trained volunteers to collect data on bird carcasses found on beaches. The volunteers are trained to identify and document the species of bird, as well as the location and condition of the carcass. This information is used to track changes in sea-bird populations over time and to identify potential threats to their health and habitat.

new coasst survey
During our survey of the beach, we discovered the discarded shells of Dungeness Crabs.

Since its inception, the COASST Sea-Bird Program has collected over 70,000 bird carcasses and trained over 4,000 volunteers. The program has been instrumental in identifying the effects of climate change and human activities on sea-bird populations and in promoting conservation efforts to protect these important species. The program’s success has led to the development of similar citizen science programs worldwide and serves as a model for community-based research in marine biology.


Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.


We decide to move to a new COASST beach after years of surveying Toleak Beach. The bonus is the new beach is full of fossils.


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

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scott's bluff

Scotts Bluff is a prominent geological formation located in the Olympic National Park, Washington. It is a massive rock that rises over 900 feet above the surrounding landscape, and it is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The formation is made up of several layers of volcanic rock, and it was formed over millions of years through a combination of volcanic activity and erosion.

The history of Scotts Bluff goes back thousands of years, and the area has been inhabited by various Native American tribes for generations. These tribes used the area for hunting, fishing, and gathering, and they also used it as a place for spiritual and cultural ceremonies. When European settlers arrived in the area in the 19th century, they were immediately drawn to Scotts Bluff for its natural beauty and unique geological features. Today, Scotts Bluff is a popular tourist destination, and it offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the Olympic National Park.

Over the past five years, we have been conducting our COASST Beached Bird surveys. During this time, we have encountered numerous winter storms that have caused multiple trees to fall on the trail. This served as a humbling reminder of the immense power present in these storms. The hike to our survey beach was always challenging, and some trips were particularly strenuous. If you’re interested in learning more about our experiences, we’ve provided plenty of details here.


Recently, we decided to switch things up and try a new beach. Our assigned spot is Murdock Beach, also known as Cannonball Beach or Fossil Beach to the locals. Located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just west of Port Angeles, it’s a shorter drive from our basecamp, giving us more time to enjoy the beach. 

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a narrow waterway located in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It stretches for approximately 96 miles and separates the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The strait is known for its strong currents, turbulent waters, and treacherous weather conditions, which have caused numerous shipwrecks over the years. Despite its dangers, the strait is also a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. It is also an important shipping lane for commercial vessels traveling between the Pacific Ocean and the ports of Puget Sound. Overall, the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a fascinating and important geographical feature that plays an important role in the economy and culture of the Pacific Northwest.

It might take some time to adjust to the convenience of having the beach so close by, but I’m not complaining. We even managed to go fossil hunting and discovered some specimens, though their shape is hard to discern due to the surrounding buildup. We’re excited to learn more as we continue to explore the beach.

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More to explore

bird workshop

Beached Cast Bird Workshop with COASST

I’ve been anxious to work with this group for sometime. When I submitted my application last year, I was disappointed to find out that I had missed all of the bird workshops scheduled for 2017. But, as they say, good things come to those who wait.

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First Attempted Survey at Toleak Beach

As I was crawling through the rain slick log jam, I thought, “This can’t be the rain I’m feeling, it can’t be raining that hard, the surf must be dumping on the logs”! Well, it was both. And that was in direct competition with all the noise. This time the battle was between the wind in the tree tops and the dumping surf. Was I on Toleak Beach or an alien world.?

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