When You Find More Mammals Then Birds

Sitting around the campfire afterward, uploading our data, I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such a worthy project.

More Mammals

We’re quickly coming up on our three-year anniversary with COASST. Has it really been three years? After I completed my training and was pondering the map of Washingtons’ coastline, I wanted to use the survey as a means to get out to the most remote and infrequently visited survey beach. In that, I’ve been wildly successful. But we’ve found far more mammals in our survey than beach-casted birds. In fact, we’ve documented nearly a dozen marine mammals on our assigned beach.

A Glaucous-Winged Gull (Larus glaucescens) is our bird #302. Photo Credit: Steve Weileman

How Many Birds

Oh geez…when I think of the hundreds of miles and thousands of elevation climbed, versus the number of birds found I have to chuckle or perhaps cry. For all the effort put in our surveys, we’ve found a whopping two birds.

Yea. I’m told that even empty surveys are just as important as one where birds are found; it helps establish the baseline and pattern of mortality near our section of beach. I get it, but I’d still rather do a bit more science.

Still, the Outer Coast of Washington is like a drug, once your start it’s hard to start. I don’t find birds on every survey…and every survey isn’t always fun, some are downright miserable, especially when it’s baring above freezing with wind and rain making sure we’re soaked.

But I can say that it’s always an adventure, there’s always something new and awe-inspiring when we’re out there. Sitting around the campfire afterward, uploading our data, I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such a worthy project.

Support

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.

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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. 

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Sitting around the campfire afterward, uploading our data, I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such a worthy project.

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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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Looking down on our campground from atop Tower Rock. It's a straight 2000' straight drop from here. ...

Driving up to Mosquito Meadows I noticed a dark shadow and gap just off the forest road. This small but picturesque waterfall on Pinto Creek was the reward for pulling off to investigate.⁠ ...

Heading out to Gifford Pinchot National Forest to explore a few new areas. ...

After a week of sitting on the shoreline waiting for the weather on Augustine Island and her volcano, we finally had our chance to paddle over to the mainland. Fortune smiled at us that day! ...

A kayaker making his way across Coldwater Lake with the crater of Mt. St. Helens in the background. ...

On May 16, 1898, the North Head Lighthouse was put into service as the primary navigation aid at the mouth of the Columbia River and still stands as a sentinel overlooking this treacherous body of water, the confluence between the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. ...

This root was near our campsite. I was intrigued because it looks like an entire forest wrapped around it. ...

Mt. St. Helens seen from Windy Ridge. ...

Cispus River with Tower Rock in the background. Our camp was locate on the banks of the river. ...

River bank of the Cispus River inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. ...

Headed back to Mt. St. Helens for the weekend. Hoping to visit some of our favorite places as well as discover new ones. ...

Buck Creek is one of the many waterways that feed the Suiattle River. We spotted this view during our last Wild and Scenic Rivers fieldwork. ...

During our recent Wild and Scenic River Survey we had the opportunity to do a bit of exploring. Here's Buck Creek which drains into the Suiattle River. ...

Theresa taking a sample for the Wild and Scenic Rivers project with Adventure Scientist. We'll be heading out to the Suiattle River this weekend for another round of data. ...

Looking out over Crescent Bay from Tongue Point. We recently experienced the lowest tides in a decade here in Washington. ...

COASST

Since its beginnings in 2000, COASST has steadily expanded from a nucleus of 5 beaches along the southern outer coast of Washington State to nearly 450 beaches spread across northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. From 12 stalwart participants who worked tirelessly to invent and refine the COASST system of carcass identification, COASST has grown to more than 1,000 participants, making them the largest beached bird network in the world.

And the COASST volunteers are good! COASST Beached Birds boasts a stunning 85% of birds identified correctly to species over the 183 species found to date – each carcass identification is independently verified.

In COASST, we “prove it and use it!” All COASST data are verified by experts. And that means that if you turn in the measurements, foot type, and photo evidence for what you think is a Red-footed Booby, we can prove that you were right about this vanishingly rare tropical bird in North Pacific.

Our ability to prove the high quality of our data makes COASST data immediately useful to scientists and natural resource managers, and we’re in the business of sharing our data. In fact, COASST data are used for an amazing array of science and resource management projects, including:

These are some examples of what our data is used for:

  • baseline monitoring for the introgression of avian influenza
  • documenting the impacts of harmful algal blooms
  • assessing the impacts of “The Blob” – the largest and most intense marine heatwave in the world
  • modeling the likelihood that native Americans used naturally occurring mass mortality events as regular sources of food
  • assessing bycatch events in the Salish Sea

If you’re interested in becoming part of the team you can find information on training events here.

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