There are several ways to become involved with COASST. On this page, you can learn more about what’s involved in conducting monthly surveys for beached birds or marine debris on your beach. You can also support our work by reporting signs of seabird die-offs in Alaska or making a donation.

Monthly Surveys

Monthly surveys are the backbone of the COASST citizen science program. Together we build a baseline record of the amount of marine debris or number of beached birds washing up on local coastlines. If we know how much is ‘normal’ we can detect unusual events as they occur! Join us in just a few steps:

  1. Decide which module you would like: beached birds or marine debris
  2. Attend an in-person training for the module of your choice
  3. Pick a beach or work with COASST to set up a new one
  4. Survey once a month, and send in your data and photos

Beached Bird Participants

COASST beached bird participants conduct monthly surveys to systematically count and identify bird carcasses that wash ashore along ocean beaches from northern California to Alaska. As part of their involvement, participants learn about marine conservation and how to identify beached birds using the COASST Beached Birds field guide.

What’s involved in a survey?

A COASST Beached Bird survey is definitely a commitment! Once you get to your beach, plan on 2-5 hours, with the total amount of time variable depending on the width of your beach, the length of your beach section (usually about 3/4 mile), the number of surveyors, the weather, and – of course – how many birds you find.

The entire beach area is searched for beached birds, from the surfline up to the live vegetation. You and any partner(s) will space yourselves out to cover as much ground as possible, and walk in a slow S-shaped pattern down the beach, looking right and left for beached birds.

Once found, documenting, identifying and photographing a bird might take 10–20 minutes. Visit our Beached Bird Toolbox for more information on survey materials and answers to FAQs for our current participants.

Scheduling your surveys is up to you. We ask that you survey once a month, aiming for the same week each time.

Marine Debris Participants

COASST marine debris participants collect data on the characteristics and abundance of small, medium, and/or large marine debris objects on beaches in Oregon and Washington, with pilot efforts in Alaska. As part of their involvement, participants learn about the sources and potential impacts of marine debris.

What’s involved in a survey?

Participating in marine debris monitoring is a commitment of 2-8 hours per month. The total amount of time spent surveying will be variable depending on the width and length of your beach, the number of surveyors, the weather, and how much debris you find. There are three types of surveys for marine debris (small, medium and large), and participants have the option of doing one, two, or all three.

Following the training, you’ll work with COASST to select a section of beach (usually around ¾ mile) to survey monthly. Depending on which combination of surveys you choose, you’ll search for, collect, characterize and photograph items from the whole length (large debris) or sub-sections (small and medium debris) of your beach.

Visit our Marine Debris Toolbox for more information on survey materials and answers to FAQs for our current participants.

Scheduling your surveys is up to you. We ask that you survey once a month, aiming for the same week each time.