Holiday Letter 2021

Season’s Greetings COASSTers!

Although it’s the winter holidays, we’re feeling more like Groundhog Day – all of us slowly emerging from our burrows (seems like we’ve been shut up forever!) to peer out at the world from the Land of Zoom, and wonder if it’s okay to come back out. 

With abundant caution (vaccine attestations, separately wrapped food items, and plenty of disinfectant!), Julia visited with the Makah interns at the end of the summer, popped up to Bellingham for a marine debris training in October, and pulled off two beached bird trainings in Mendocino and Arcata in November. So nice to see new folks in person, and catch up with current COASSTers and old friends.

But our time in computerland wasn’t wasted! Jackie, Anna led 19 COASSTLite! trainings – our pandemic pivot to keep newbies flowing into the program. Thanks to these events, over 100 new COASSTers have joined the ranks. We’re excited to move forward with a combination of online and in-person trainings, allowing us to reach everyone, everywhere in a timely manner.

COASSTLite! helped COASST stay afloat, stemming our COVID contraction. In 2021 we counted: 742 participants – 669 beached bird, 73 marine debris – 388 beaches, 3631 kilometers surveyed, 3,133 birds of 89 species found (crossing the 200th species mark with Rock Sandpiper), and 4,631 pieces of marine debris logged.

Although the COASST office has been a skeleton crew with the University of Washington shut-down this past year, our ranks actually grew with the addition of Rachel Cohen, our AmeriCorps Marine Debris Member, and Kathy Willis, our Fulbright Marine Debris postdoc (all the way from Australia!). Their work is setting the stage for publishing COASST Marine Debris findings next year!

From Left: Anna Vallery (Participant Coordinator), Rachel Cohen (AmeriCorps/Debris Verifier), Kathy Willis (Fulbright Scholar)

And speaking of publishing, Tim Jones, our erstwhile data analyst turned Acting Assistant Professor (!!) continued the COASST juggernaut of scientific papers with an examination of the patterns of beaching of Velella velella, also known as by-the-wind sailors. Jazzmine Waugh, COASST graduate student and Tim had a paper on oil spills accepted in Marine Pollution Bulletin. And Julia, together with longtime COASST collaborator Ben Haywood, published a paper proposing a new way of thinking about how hands-on, out-of-doors citizen science participants are attached to the places where they conduct their work. Sound familiar? Many of you answered a COASST survey this past year looking at this very subject, and a few of you were interviewed by COASST graduate assistant Sarah Inman, as part of this National Science Foundation-funded project.

All to say, there’s a lot happening in COASST, and it all comes down to you and the surveys you do! A heartfelt thank you from everyone in the COASST office to all of you, and especially for continuing to walk the beaches during COVID. 

Stay safe, stay warm, and stay healthy.

Happy Holidays!

Julia, Jackie, Anna, Charlie, Tim, Rachel, Jazzmine, Kathy, Sarah, and the COASST interns

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