Zoom-ing through COVID: COASST ‘behind the screens’

Photo: Olli Ollikainen

Last year we published a COVID-19 safety post on our homepage, reminding folks to stay safe while surveying. Everything we wrote back in 2020 holds true today – the health, safety, and comfort of our COASSTers are always of the utmost importance, and surveys should never get in the way of following local and federal health guidelines.

But in the last year we also learned that COASSTers wanted to get back out on survey as soon as possible! COASST surveys are an excuse to get outside and connect with nature, or to spend time with friends who we truly can’t visit in any other (indoor) space.

We are honored and humbled to see how many people made special arrangements and accommodations to safely continue COASST surveys during the pandemic. Thank you!

But our largest hurdle in the last year wasn’t getting out to the beach – after all, outdoor spaces are some of the easiest places to practice social distancing! The real challenge has been to connect with our COASST community at a time when it is unwise to gather groups indoors. How have we been doing? Well, see for yourself!

In the last year we have:

  • developed a virtual training program for our Beached Bird surveyors: COASSTLite! levels 1 and 2
  • hosted 24 virtual refresher trainings – aka. Digital Deep Dives – for our current beached bird and marine debris surveyors (Scroll to the bottom of the toolbox pages to find all of the recordings!)
  • presented 2 science webinars with Executive Director Julia Parrish (COASST: a history and Cool COASSTal stories)

While it has been such a joy to connect with COASSTers in these new, virtual ways, we can’t wait to get back to some in-person training and refresher events this year. (If you are attending an in-person event with us please check out this post describing acceptable forms of ‘proof of vaccination‘ – required for all attendees).

Until we can see you again, we will continue to reach out in virtual spaces including developing a virtual training program for our Marine Debris surveyors! More on that topic in the coming months!

Wishing everyone health, safety, and time at the beach.

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