Share the Coast for Fun and Stewardship

Tidepool instruction at Haystack Rock.\Photo by Melissa Keyser/HRAP.
Tidepool instruction at Haystack Rock.\Photo by Melissa Keyser/HRAP.

The annual Sharing the Coast Conference, coming up March 2-4 in Cannon Beach this year, presents an extraordinary harvest of coastal natural history and shoreline science.  Mingle with fellow coast-lovers, revel in talks, panel discussions, and field trips, and, of course, strive for supremacy in the coast and ocean trivia contest.

The conference, now in its 10th year, is a joint effort by CoastWatch and the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME).  This year we are joined by local partner the Haystack Rock Awareness Program.  The agenda is organized with CoastWatch mile adopters (or future CoastWatchers) and NAME educators and interpreters in mind, but is open to all and would be of interest to anyone fascinated by the coast and concerned about threats to its environment.  All activities aside from field trips and the Saturday evening party take place at the Cannon Beach Community Hall (207 Spruce St.).

Pre-register online here,, or register at the door.  Conference fees are $30 for members of Oregon Shores (CoastWatch’s parent group) or NAME, $45 for the general public.  Non-members are invited to obtain the discount by first joining either Oregon Shores or NAME first, then registering.  (If you do this, contact either Fawn Custer or Melissa Keyser, contact information below, to obtain the code you’ll need for the discount.)

The conference kicks off Friday evening, March 2, with a 7 p.m. talk by Bob Bailey on “Sea Otters and Rocky Shore Habitat:  Past and Future.”  Bailey, an Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition board member and former director of Oregon’s Coastal Management Program, will discuss the history of the sea otter’s extinction in Oregon, the ecological consequences of its loss, and new research into the possibility of restoring sea otters to the Oregon coast.

On Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m., the conference will feature talks and panel discussions on a wide range of topics.  Featured speakers include Debbie Duffield, of Portland State University, on marine mammals and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network; Bill Hanshumaker, Oregon Sea Grant’s chief scientist, on organisms (including sharks, squid, and sea turtles) sometimes found washed up on the shoreline; Julia Parrish, director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Team (COASST), on the value and practice of citizen science; Joe Liebezeit of Portland Audubon and Shawn Stephensen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on shorebirds and seabirds; and much more.

A Saturday afterparty, featuring the ocean and coast trivia contest, starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Coast Brewery (264 E. 3rd St.).

On Sunday, an early morning tidepool walk at Haystack Rock is planned (weather allowing).  Conference-goers will gather back at the community hall at 10 a.m. for a series of short talks about citizen science, then head back out to the beach for field trips.  If the weather is overly inclement, trip leaders will speak inside instead.  Alternatively on Sunday, there will be the opportunity to participate in a full-day training session for the COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) beached bird survey.

Sharing the Coast is a chance to have fun learning some intriguing new things about the shoreline and socializing with others who share this fascination.  For CoastWatchers or those interested in getting involved with the program, it is the best possible chance to gain a range of knowledge that will facilitate coastal monitoring and give observations greater meaning.

For more information, contact Fawn Custer, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, (541) 270-0027, [email protected]; or Melissa Keyser, Oregon NAME director (and coordinator of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program), 503-436-8060, [email protected].