Holiday Letter

Holiday Greetings amidst the Maelstrom!

Oh my goodness!  Has there ever (ever??) been a year like this?

Certainly COASST has seen a series of dramatic years, with mass mortality events gracing our coastlines from the lower 48 to Alaska, from 2014 to the present.  Beached birders have been – literally – working your tails off documenting these regional scale responses to a changing climate.

And marine debris-ers – you have done yeoman’s service putting together the baseline of debris!  The early years are the hardest.  Kudos to you for that effort.

But 2020 was a year of upheaval in the human environment: COVID, social unrest, and a dramatic election.  These things, while not directly impacting the science we all do together, certainly influence how science is done, and thought of, in our country.

So here are a few thoughts in this holiday season that we hope will leave you strong and positive as we all go forward into 2021.

In a small response to the movement pushing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) in science, COASST has published our long-standing code of conduct.  Check it out.  Give us feedback!

After almost 20 (!) years with plastic cable ties, COASST beached birds has graduated to sustainable wooden tags tied with hemp twine.  Three years of testing alternatives; goodness.  And YaHOO!  We lead in sustainability!

We’ve concluded field trails of NOAA marine debris protocols, and determined,… working in pairs really improves data quality, a 5m rectangle for medium debris is the best, surveying the veg is essential, and removing trash doesn’t mess up surveys!  Sound familiar?  You got it!!  The COASST protocol rocks!!

Responding to the ongoing die-offs of marine birds in Alaska, artist naturalist (and COASSTer) Kim McNett produced an amazing piece of painted work documenting the carcasses she found.  Check out the video about her work.

And speaking of videos, check out the National Park Service video story of the Alaska murre die-off, with a strong nod to COASST.  Our data provided the only baseline data against which this horrific mortality event could be measured.


And finally, coming out next year – COASST will be featured in a book on big data and partnerships.  All of the other chapters are mainstream science, and we’re the exemplar of what citizen science can do at scale.  Go team!

Happy Holidays from all of us here at COASST

Julia, Jackie, Kylie, Charlie, Tim, Jazzmine, Sarah, and the interns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *