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COASST Mission The Coastal Observation And Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a citizen science project dedicated to involvement and action. COASST believes that coastal residents know and care about their local resources. With a target of comprehensive beach coverage in Washington and Oregon, COASST volunteers will provide long-term baseline data on seabird beaching, and become an active voice in coastal marine conservation.
Who we are... Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a citizen-science program established to identify the carcasses of marine birds found on beaches along on the outer coast of Washington State.Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â What we do... Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â As part of this program, pairs of specially trained COASST volunteers conduct monthly or bi-monthly surveys of a particular stretch of coastline, usually 1 to 4 kilometers in length. At a minimum, each carcass is measured, identified, photographed, marked individually, and left in place. Why beached birds (and not whales, fish or seaweed)... Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â Birds are common enough to be useful, while not so common they are overwhelming.Ã?Â?Ã?Â Birds are highly visible in life, everybody knows what a bird is. And letÃ?Â¢??s face it, people like birds. Birds provide lots of useful information (even in death) about the state of the coastal environment. Weather, fisheries, coastal habitat change, and even feral cats and dogs can affect bird populations. Some species, like the Common Murre, are so sensitive to environmental and human-induced events, they are the Ã?Â¢??canary-in-the-coalmineÃ?Â¢?? for Pacific Northwest coastal ecosystems. Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â What we learn.. Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â COASST data help create a baseline, or the Ã?Â¢??normalÃ?Â¢?? pattern of beached bird mortality. Armed with this information, we can detect unusual events such as increased mortality during an El NiÃ?Â?Ã?Â±o year. Should a human-mediated event, like an oil spill, happen, COASST data can be used to determine the percent increase in mortality from background levels. Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â We also use our data to determine the rate of scavenging and how long carcasses persist on the beach. This baseline information can be used for a variety of science and natural resource management goals.Perhaps most importantly, COASST data can be used to identify long-term changes in the status of our resident marine bird populations. Ã?Â?Ã?Â Ã?Â?Ã?Â For more information about COASST or to find out whether there is a beached bird program in your area, contact our volunteer coordinator at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
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