University of Washington - COASST

The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a rigorous citizen science organization based in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Now 15 years old, COASST recruits and trains coastal citizens from northern California north to Kotzebue, Alaska to survey their local beach in a systematic, standardized fashion, returning data on a monthly basis about the number, identity, and condition of beached marine birds. Additional data on the state of the carcass, and the conditions on the beach are also collected. COASST experts independently verify all participant data (i.e., species identification), making the data immediately useful in science and resource management. At present, almost 800 volunteers collect data as part of the COASST program. All participants are trained in a 5-6 hour session, and given a set of data collection materials, including the relevant COASST Field Guide and written protocol. Once data collection starts, COASST interns and professional staff keep in close contact with each volunteer, making sure (s)he has adequate supplies, is identifying carcasses correctly, and is continuing the survey at least monthly. Additional enrichment activities, including refresher trainings and evening public lectures on coastal natural history and conservation are also available to volunteers and their communities.