Citizen Science Projects Need Volunteers

March 5, 2022

 Beached bird training.  Photo courtesy of COASST.
Beached bird training. Photo courtesy of COASST.

CoastWatch has long helped volunteers connect with citizen science projects, such as the beached bird survey in which many mile adopters participate. We continue to expand the range of these projects as the field grows, working with scientists and other conservation groups who lead many interesting citizen science efforts. Some of these involve joining a team for a formal survey according to scientific protocols; others are simply a matter of CoastWatchers (and other interested citizens) increasing their vigilance for certain types of phenomena they may observe and knowing where to report the information. 

To produce good information for these long-term and large-scale studies we need more volunteers in more places, including CoastWatchers, other Oregon Shores members, or any interested community members.  Current citizen science projects on the Oregon coast include: 

  • The beached bird survey, in which CoastWatch partners with COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, based at the University of Washington). This involves monthly surveys, using a formal protocol that produces genuine scientific data.
  • Marine debris monitoring, using a protocol developed by NOAA. This project also involves consistent monthly surveys and produces scientifically useful data.
  • The sea star survey, through which any volunteer can keep an observation log about sea star populations at any rocky shore location.
  • Marine mammals, alive or dead, stranded on the shore, in cooperation with Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This isn't a formal survey, but we encourage all CoastWatch mile adopters and other volunteers to report all stranded animals, alive or dead, using a form on our website that goes directly to the Oregon stranding network and may trigger rescue efforts when needed. 
  • King Tides photography project: each winter, volunteers photograph the year's highest tides to document current conditions and anticipate what will become ordinary tide levels with sea level rise.

CoastWatch publicizes training for various citizen science surveys on a continuing basis. To volunteer or for more information, contact Jesse Jones, CoastWatch’s volunteer coordinator, (503) 989-7244, [email protected].