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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We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
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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.
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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Theresa is looking downstream at Murhat Falls. This waterfall is easy to drive to and an easy hike in the Olympic National Forest. ...

Skate Creek runs alongside Forest Road 52 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This was just one of the many photographic sites that can be accessed from the road. ...

Murhut Falls and its pool are nestled in the Olympic National Forest, not far from Dosewallips State Park. ...

Winter storm making landfall just south of Cape Flattery. This part of the Pacific Northwest can see some powerful storms. ...

An unnamed creek and a small waterfall that you can find along the Steam Donkey Loop trail, which starts within the Dosewallips State Park of Washington ...

Footsteps and a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. ...

Early morning sunshine filtered through the trees and reflected off the upper portion of Murhut waterfall ...

Theresa sitting under Murhut Falls, enjoying the beauty of the forest. ...

Found this small dam in the hills behind our camp on Hood Canal. At one time, it appears to have been used by a homestead to hold water during the summer months. #washingtonstateparks ...

A photographer takes a photo and becomes the subject himself. ...

“How We Survived a Slight Derailment on Tower Rock” was published on our website. You'll find a gallery of all photographs in the article towards the bottom of the page. I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments. You can find our URL in the bio. ...

Low tide on Crescent Bay and reflections in the pools left behind. ...

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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