CoastWatch Citizen Science Projects Need More Volunteers

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

CoastWatch has long sponsored several citizen science projects, such as the beached bird survey in which many mile adopters participate. In recent years, though, we have expanded the range of these projects. We now conduct a number of projects ourselves, and assist scientists and other conservation groups with additional surveys.

Some of these projects are well established, while a couple are just getting started or are in the process of expansion. Some 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, while serving as a vehicle for public education about Oregon's marine resources, we'll need many more volunteers for all these projects. Even where we have solid teams already at work, we would like to expand the teams for greater long-term stability, and with many of these projects, we need more volunteers in more places in order to succeed in producing results. Volunteers could be CoastWatchers, other Oregon Shores members, or any interested community member. If you’ve been following this website or CoastWatch bulletins, you’ve already heard about these projects, but this is a reminder, along with a plea for fresh energy and involvement.  

The citizen science projects 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, on the shore, in cooperation with Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This isn't a formal survey, but we train and encourage all CoastWatch mile adopters and other volunteers to report all stranded animals, alive or dead, and provide a form on our website that goes directly to the stranding network. This work produces data points for the stranding network.
  • King Tides photography project, through which volunteers photograph the year's highest tides, both to demonstrate current conditions and to anticipate what will become ordinary tide levels with sea level rise.

CoastWatch will provide training for these 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].

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