Big Weekend in Port Orford Coming Up

August 7, 2018

View from the Port Orford dock.\Photo courtesy of ODFW.
View from the Port Orford dock.\Photo courtesy of ODFW.

One of CoastWatch’s goals for 2018 is to bolster our citizen science projects on the south coast.  Assisted by a grant from the Oregon Parks Foundation Fund that helps to cover travel and other costs, we are trying to give the southern coastal counties some special attention.

The full weekend of activities planned for this weekend, Aug. 10-12, in Port Orford is a step in this direction.  From a marine mammal talk to beachwalks to a BioBlitz, there will be a number of opportunities to learn about shoreline ecology and citizen science.  All events are free and open to all.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, Aug. 10, with a talk on marine mammals and how citizens can help scientists track their strandings by Dawn Goley, a professor of zoology at Humboldt State University and coordinator of the northern California branch of the marine mammal stranding network.  Dr. Goley will speak at 6:30 in the Oregon State University Field Station (444 Jackson St.) in Port Orford. 

CoastWatch has long engaged volunteers to cooperate with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  Dawn Goley, collaborating with CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer, is working to develop a more intensive citizen science protocol that will involve regular monthly reports.  Custer will also be present to discuss the involvement of CoastWatchers, both in the ongoing monitoring for stranded marine mammals that all volunteers do on their miles, and how the program could help to pioneer the new method on the south coast.

On Saturday, visit the booth at the Port Orford Street Fair ( that CoastWatch will share with the Redfish Rangers and Shoreline Education for Awareness, and catch one or more of the three beachwalks Fawn will lead.  The first, at 10 a.m., focuses on the marine mammal stranding survey. At 1 p.m. Fawn will take another group out for a guided tour of the driftline with special emphasis on the beached bird survey.  And at 3 p.m., Fawn will lead yet another walk, this one devoted to the marine debris survey.  All of these walks start at Battle Rock State Wayside.  While the walks have particular purposes, in terms of learning about citizen science opportunities, they all provide an opportunity to learn about shoreline ecology and about CoastWatch monitoring.

On Sunday, Aug. 12, CoastWatch (together with the Redfish Rocks Community Team) will hold the last BioBlitz of the summer.  The previous evening--Saturday, Aug. 11--we’re offering a BioBlitz introduction and training session.  Join CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer at 6:30 p.m. at the Oregon State University Field Station.  Fawn will provide a tutorial on how BioBlitzes are conducted and on recognizing the species we’re likely to find on the shoreline facing the marine reserve.  Ian Throckmorton, our 2018 Marine Reserve BioBlitz Coordinator, sponsored by the Oregon Coast Aquarium, will join Fawn to help participants upload the iNaturalist app and learn how to use it. 

Finally, on Sunday morning at 8 a.m., meet Fawn and Ian at Rocky Point Beach Access (CoastWatch Mile 46), about two miles south of Port Orford, on the ocean side of Hwy 101.  A parking lot and trail to the beach can be found there.  The BioBlitz last until noon, so you can pitch in at any time during the morning.  Those of any skill level can be helpful, but if you aren’t a knowledgeable shoreline naturalist, attending the training on Saturday will enable you to play a more effective role.

More information on the BioBlitz and all the other activities on the CoastWatch calendar.  We hope by the end of the weekend to have a stronger network of volunteers ready to participate in the marine debris, sea star, marine mammal, beached bird, and other citizen science surveys.

Contact Fawn Custer, (541) 270-0027, [email protected], for more information about the weekend activities or to discuss participating in citizen science projects if you can’t attend in Port Orford.