Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST)

Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST)

The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) organizes coastal residents to monitor beach-cast seabird carcasses at over 350 sites in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Resulting data advances the science of coastal ecology and contributes to natural resources management. The achievements of COASST, which currently has about 850 volunteers, include documenting the world's single largest die-off of seabirds from a harmful algal bloom as well as contributing to many analyses of the potential impacts of resource development on coastal ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest.

COASST sees a future in which all coastal communities contribute directly to monitoring local marine resources and ecosystem health through the establishment of a network of citizen scientists, each collecting rigorous and vital data. Through this collective effort, and the translation of individual data into baselines against which any impact—from human or natural origins—can be assessed, nearshore ecosystems worldwide will be actively known, managed and protected.

COASST is a citizen science project of the University of Washington in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and community groups.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Parrish, Executive Director
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: COASST/University of Washington
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Less than $20
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Attend a 6-hour COASST training session in your area (schedule of upcoming training sessions is available here). At the interactive, hands-on training session you will learn how seabirds, and particularly beached birds, fit into marine conservation, be introduced to bird identification using Beached Birds: A COASST Field Guide, have the opportunity to try out your ID skills, and learn everything you need to know about how to conduct a COASST survey. Contact COASST with any additional questions.

See more projects in Less than $20FieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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