Coastal survey project heads to Blaine

Representatives from the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) are asking Blaine residents to comb the beach in the name of science.

The Seattle-based organization plans to make two stops in Whatcom County this month to host free trainings about beached bird carcasses and marine debris. Birch Bay’s beached bird training will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lions Camp Horizon, located on 7506 Gemini Street, on Saturday, November 19.

The University of Washington as well as state, federal, tribal, environmental and community agencies sponsor the citizen-directed science project known as COASST.

The project aims to build a network of volunteers in various locations on the Pacific coast to monitor marine life in order to further conservation solutions.

Currently, the now 17-year-old project has 800 participants throughout Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska.

The volunteers collect data to help identify patterns on the number, species and condition of beach-cast bird carcasses and other marine debris – as a result, scientists are closer to understanding potential sources and harm of coastal debris.

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Drayton Harbor glistens during a fall sunset. Photo by Ruth Lauman.

The upcoming six-hour training will allow volunteers to get their hands on the COASST field guide to develop skills to detect and identify beached birds.

The only requirement to participate in the program is interest and commitment.

Representatives with COASST will provide training on how to collect scientific data.

Volunteers will also learn about the value of marine conservation.

Successful trainees will agree to survey on a monthly basis as well as pay a small deposit for a copy of the field guide and other
supplies.

COASST is also hosting a training on marine debris on Bellingham from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 20 at the Fairhaven Library, located on 1117 12th Street.

Participants of both training sessions are asked to bring a sack lunch to eat during a short break. Spots for the training must be reserved through COASST by calling 206/221-6893 or emailing coast@uw.edu.

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