What’s Washed In — August 12, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Sum­mer sig­nals COASST’s busy sea­son, espe­cially along the West Coast — exhausted breed­ers (and their chicks) arrive on COASST beaches begin­ning in July. Alan, who sur­veys Bob Creek and Stone­field Beach sounded the alarm about dozens of Com­mon Murre chicks on Ore­gon South beaches. Staff at three part­ner orga­ni­za­tions, Alaska Mar­itime National Wildlife Refuge (Leslie Slater), the Inter­na­tional Pacific Hal­ibut Com­mis­sion (Tracy Geern­eart), and Wash­ing­ton Sea Grant (Ed Melvin) alerted COASST to two wrecks in Alaska – mur­res near Homer, shear­wa­ters, ful­mars, and mur­res near St. George Island.

With the wreck sea­son upon us, here are some help­ful tips to expe­dite pro­cess­ing lots of birds:

  • after the 10th bird, don’t mea­sure — record, tag, and pho­to­graph only
  • process birds as a group — record, tag, and pho­to­graph together: we some­times bring a 5-gallon bucket along to assist with this
  • bring extra help­ing hands and del­e­gate peo­ple to spe­cific tasks: one per­son tags and mea­sures, one per­son takes notes, one per­son takes pho­tos and writes on slate

Watch out for those Alcid chicks! Below, we’ve pro­filed two sets of four birds – in each of the sets, one species is not the same as the others!

Let’s take a look:

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Wing mea­sure­ments (L to R): 13 cm, 20 cm, 12 cm, 11 cm

Cred­its (L to R): Grant and Kathy (Ore­gon Mile 102), Marc and Craig (Ore­gon Mile 313 S), Teresa and Danny (Pis­tol River, OR), Joann and Julie (Klip­san Beach, WA)

It’s photo THREE that’s dif­fer­ent here (Ancient Mur­relet). The rest are adult Com­mon Mur­res. Here’s why:

Feet are pale, not dark, and the sec­on­daries do not have white tips. In pho­tos one and four, all mur­res are in molt. Wings look “stumpy” like those of a juve­nile, except the face of all these birds is mostly dark. Check out the feather wear of the bird in photo one. Even though the chin is dark, we know this can’t be a juve­nile – juve­niles have fresh, dark plumage all over – this bird has worn plumage except for the head and new (grow­ing) primaries.

5cb6d54e-013f-4e1c-8880-91920b88aee2 be6628fd-984b-4210-8dc8-b88d17035cf4 Coasst150 bd3a84dd-e2f8-41fa-9344-f97364ca3926 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wing mea­sure­ments (L to R): 29 cm, 28 cm, 42 cm, N/A

Cred­its (L to R): Terry (Clam Beach South, CA), Steven and Nancy (Coro­n­ado Shores, OR) Ken (Sarichef East, AK), Deb­o­rah (Homer Spit Mid­dle, AK).

It’s photo THREE that’s dif­fer­ent. The rest are North­ern Ful­mars. Here’s why:
Although the plumage is sim­i­lar, the wing mea­sure­ment is WAY too big for a ful­mar (28-33cm). Com­pare the heel (joint at base of toes) of the bird in photo two with photo three – that’s the swollen heel of a Larid, a Large Imma­ture Gull.

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The mys­tery item from our last edi­tion has been iden­ti­fied thanks to Ken and Art. As Art points out, “it is undoubt­edly a butane pow­ered micro braz­ing torch. Those things make great hol­i­day gifts for the hard-to-buy-for crack or meth smoker, but they are also handy for elec­tri­cians or mechan­ics with a need to heat some­thing rel­a­tively small or del­i­cate.”
5558a3ba-9950-4b73-8104-4af2c108acbe 7f50e230-0b8f-435a-b152-315561c79d28

 

 

 

 

This week Ken from Shish­maref encoun­tered a note­wor­thy con­cen­tra­tion of objects with Russ­ian and Korean writ­ing. We are still in the process of trans­lat­ing the Korean, but in the mean­time thought we’d share with you some of his finds.

Russ­ian trans­la­tion stu­dent Sarah iden­ti­fied that the jar is from brand Медведь любимый, trans­lated as “favorite bear,” a com­pany that cans fruits and vegetables.

The tube shown here con­tained hand lotion from brand Белоручка, which trans­lates to “small white hands” or kid-glove.

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Check out the tube­worms that Keith found on his July sur­vey in Ocean Shores (WA). Tube­worms anchor them­selves to avail­able sub­strates and secrete cal­cium car­bon­ate, which forms the tubes that sur­round them. These tubes offer some pro­tec­tion from poten­tial preda­tors and other dan­gers. While there is still a lot to be researched about these unique ani­mals, accord­ing to National Geo­graphic, tube­worms have been around for at least 3 mil­lion years and can tell us a lot about the ocean’s history.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns

What’s Washed In — July 20, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’re all hav­ing a great month and enjoy­ing some beau­ti­ful weather on the beach lately.  It’s been a busy month here at COASST. We have a fan­tas­tic new team of sum­mer interns (see pho­tos and bios at the bot­tom of this page), and we’re gear­ing up for a series of train­ings in the San Juan Islands (WA) this week­end. WA COASSTers, we’d love it if you could join us — see our events cal­en­dar for details!

Thank you for all of the datasheets and pho­tos over the past few weeks — we really appre­ci­ate it! As you head out for your next sur­vey, take a quick look at your sup­plies — we’ll be start­ing sum­mer vol­un­teer check-ins soon and would be happy to replen­ish your inven­tory of cable ties, datasheets, etc.

Also, as some of you have heard, Jane Dol­liver (COASST’s Beached Bird Pro­gram Coor­di­na­tor) is leap­ing into grad­u­ate school in the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Wildlife at Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity this fall. She’ll be work­ing on project involv­ing seabirds (what else?!) and Alaska’s Ground­fish fish­ery. We’ve been lucky to have Jane as part of the COASST team for the last 13 years — she started as an under­grad­u­ate intern with COASST in 2002 — and wish her well on this next step!

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

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Ore­gon Mile 166 (OR) 7/1/15 found by Priscilla and Wal­ter
 
Bill: 15 mm
Wing: 13 cm
Tar­sus: 18 mm
 
Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 3 toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose tar­sus <50mm – ALCIDS.
 
West Coast Guide
On AL1, select wing chord < 15cm, Small Alcids. Select bill color dark: Com­mon Murre juve­nile (AL4), Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL14). The MAMUs mea­sure­ments match, check COMUj – nope, plain white belly. Dou­ble check sim­i­lar species: no white under­wing lin­ings (not ANMU), no spot on bill (not CAAU) – so it’s a Mar­bled Mur­relet, an adult in breed­ing plumage.
 
Alaska Guide
On AL1, select wing chord < 15cm, Small Alcids. Select bill color dark: Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL17), Kittlitz’s Mur­relet (AL19). Based on mea­sure­ments, could be either of these species – but the sec­ondary feath­ers are all dark – not a KIMU. Check sim­i­lar species: no white under­wing lin­ings (not COMU), bill is dark and under­wing lin­ings are not white (not ANMU), bill in range and under­wing sim­ply dark (not CAAU). It’s a Mar­bled Mur­relet, an adult in breed­ing plumage.

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ec4d203a-a98b-4670-9905-f7b38c8c7c4c2728f963-9eea-442a-81d5-c4cdf0188b6e

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Spit (CA) 07/04/15 found by Grace and Don
 
Bill: not mea­sur­able, no upper bill
Wing: 5.5 cm
Tar­sus: 32 mm
 
Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 3 toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose tar­sus <50mm – ALCIDS.
 
West Coast Guide
On AL1, select wing chord < 15cm, Small Alcids. Select bill color dark: Com­mon Murre juve­nile (AL4), Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL14). The Mar­bled Murrelet’s tar­sus and wing chord are too small – check COMUj. Looks like the photo of the young juve­nile, but con­firm against sim­i­lar species: white throat (not CAAU), no white upper­wing patch (not PIGU), no white scapu­lars (not MAMU) – so it must be a Com­mon Murre juve­nile.
 
Alaska Guide
On AL1, select wing chord < 15cm, Small Alcids. Select dark bill: Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL17) or Kittlitz’s Mur­relet (AL19). Whoa! Tar­sus is way too long and wing is way too short for either of these species! Con­sult the sim­i­lar species sec­tion: mur­res (AL3, AL5), Ancient Mur­relet (AL15), Cassin’s Auk­let (AL21). Hmm. The mea­sure­ments are not fit­ting any of these species, either. Check for imma­tures – Thick-billed Murre, Com­mon Murre. Tiny wing and tar­sus almost adult-sized (like pup­pies, they grow into their feet first!). This is a Com­mon Murre chick – white face and throat.

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This Russ­ian vodka bot­tle was found by COASST interns dur­ing a field trip to Ocean Shores. As explained by trans­lat­ing vol­un­teer Sarah, the brand is Кристалл/Kristal which was founded in 1901.This par­tic­u­lar vodka bot­tle is not cur­rently in pro­duc­tion by the com­pany. The words at the top mean “Moscow plant,” so this bot­tle was processed in their Moscow fac­tory. We hear it’s high qual­ity vodka.

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6f1ae52d-d9e3-4b8c-a960-df15eec69e04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While comb­ing the Long Beach penin­sula (WA) on July 3rd, Russ found this object. We have no clue what it is–but hope one of you do! Any ideas? Please send them to COASST!

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Check out this cool find! John, Tara, and Cas­sidy found this Vir­ginia opos­sum in May dur­ing a sur­vey of Bayshore Beach (OR). You can tell it is an opos­sum due to its long, rat-like tail and sharp claws. Not only do their pre­hen­sile tails grasp objects, but their claws help them climb trees. Opos­sums can be found liv­ing in tree holes that have been dug out by other ani­mals. They are most com­monly known for their sig­na­ture phrase “play­ing pos­sum,” where they invol­un­tar­ily fall to the ground and play dead, when they sense that they are in dan­ger. This cata­tonic state is com­monly accom­pa­nied by a foul odor and foam­ing at the mouth, where they have the chance to show off all 50 of their teeth!

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns

What’s Washed In — June 30, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’ve all had a great month! Thank you for the datasheets and pho­tos that you’ve sent in recently, we really appre­ci­ate it.

As you head out for your next sur­vey, note that there is cur­rently a largeharm­ful algal bloom occur­ring on the West Coast involv­ing micro­scopic algae called Pseudo-nitzschia.  This algae pro­duces a strong neu­ro­toxin called domoic acid. High lev­els of domoic acid are often reported in the fall, but this out­break is occur­ring ear­lier than usual and is shut­ting down many recre­ational and com­mer­cial shell­fish har­vests in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, and California.

In other news, this week we received an update on Sea Star Wast­ing Dis­ease from Dr. Drew Harvell at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity, which we’ve posted on theCOASST web­site with an updated ani­ma­tion. Dur­ing recent sur­veys in East­sound, WA, Dr. Harvell and her team con­firmed that the sur­viv­ing sea stars are not resis­tant and the dis­ease is report­edly going strong again this year.

If you live in a coastal area with cob­ble, rocky bench, or tide pool coastal sites and are able to con­duct a July sea star sur­vey dur­ing low tides, we’d greatly appre­ci­ate it. Every­thing you need to get started (the sea star sur­vey pro­to­col and datasheet) can be found in the vol­un­teer tool­box at the bot­tom. We’re hop­ing to get a final push of data in for July to help assess the size of their pop­u­la­tions and assess the mag­ni­tude of fur­ther impacts of Sea Star Wast­ing Disease.

Also, we’d like to give a big wel­come to our new COASSTers in Fort Bragg and For­tuna, CA and our new COAST interns who are join­ing us for sum­mer quar­ter. We’re excited to have you all join the team!

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

Mariner Park (AK) 6/2/15 found by Michelle and John

Wing: 42 cm

Alaska Wing Key – page 44
Choose gray, some species with dark tips and/or dark stripe(s) (go to Q25), select gray wingtips with white win­dows and fin­ger­nails – Glaucous-winged Gull (LA6).

West Coast Wing Key – page 33
Choose gray, some species with dark tips and/or dark stripe(s) on man­tle (go to Q10), wingtips do not con­trast (gray– same as man­tle) (go to Q11), pri­mary feath­ers have con­trast­ing white in the outer half – white win­dows and fin­ger­nails – Glaucous-winged Gull (LA7).

West Coast Wing Table – page 32
Choose size row Extra Large (wing chord 33–43) and col­umn gray man­tle. Don’t have a photo of the under­wing lin­ings, so it’s either Heermann’s Gull (HEEGLA21) or Glaucous-winged Gull (GWGULA7). HEER has a very dark man­tle and wingtips – must be the lighter-colored Glaucous-winged Gull (LA7)

Elger Bay (WA) 1/12/15 found by Alice and Bill

Wing: 34 cm
Tar­sus: 95 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: 3 webbed, 4th free (go to Q5), choose tar­sus more than 12mm across – LOONS.

Alaska Guide
On LO1, we don’t have a bill, but mea­sure­ments fit only one species – Com­mon Loon (LO6)

West Coast Guide
On LO1, we don’t have a bill, but mea­sure­ments fit only one species – Com­mon Loon (LO4).

    

Babs sent images of this buoy, found on Sec­ond Beach, to COASST back in May. The buoy and other debris was also reported to WDFW, who put together this infor­ma­tion about their response. If you see some­thing unusual or inter­est­ing, don’t hes­i­tate to report it!

Have you jaw­bones like these on your sur­veys? Bobbee, Linda, and Jeanene found this set at Rend­s­land Creek last week, just above the wrack line. To get an idea of size, the longest jaw­bone is 4 inches from tip to tip and the smaller one is 2.5 inches.

Accord­ing to Mike Etnier, a cura­tor at the UW Burke Museum, these are salmon jaw­bones, but “ID-ing salmon bones to species is really really tricky (some would say impos­si­ble).” With a chum salmon hatch­ery nearby and the big, hooked teeth in front, these jaw­bones may be from a chum salmon.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns

What’s Washed In — June 15, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’re all hav­ing a great month so far! It’s been a fun few weeks, with vol­un­teer socials in Port Ange­les (WA) and Cape Meares (OR) and train­ings in Flo­rence (OR) and Gold Beach (OR). A big thanks to all of you who attended and wel­come to our new volunteers.

This week Julia is headed to Fort Bragg (CA) to give a com­mu­nity pre­sen­ta­tion on “The Nat­ural His­tory of Dead Birds.” We’ll also have week­end train­ings in Fort Bragg and For­tuna (CA). Cal­i­for­nia COASSTers, we hope you can join us!

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samoa Bay Street South (CA) 3/14/15 found by Sharon

Wing: 27 cm
Tar­sus: 50 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: 3 webbed, 4th free (go to Q5), choose tar­sus less than 12mm across (go to Q6), choose 4th toe lobed, with flap extend­ing to end of nail – WATERFOWL: DIVING DUCKS.

Alaska Guide
On WF1, we’re stuck – need a bill. You can return to the wing key, or look through the WF options that have white in the sec­on­daries: White-winged Scoter (WF5), Greater Scaup (WF15), Buf­fle­head (WF29), gold­eneyes (WF31, WF33) and mer­gansers (WF35, WF37). Based on mea­sure­ments, we can elim­i­nate all these except mer­gansers and White-winged Scoter. Only one of these has dark plumage on the side of the neck and upper breast: White-winged Scoter.

West Coast Guide
On WF1, we’re stuck – need a bill. You can return to the wing key/wing table, or look through the WF options that have white in the sec­on­daries: White-winged Scoter (WF3), Greater Scaup (WF13), Buf­fle­head (WF15). Of these, mea­sure­ments fit only one: White-winged Scoter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roads End South (OR) 6/2/15 found by Mark and pho­tos sent by Chuck
Bill: 27 mm
Wing: 25 cm
Tar­sus: 36 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: 3 webbed, 4th free (go to Q5), choose tar­sus not more than 12mm across (go to Q6), choose thin toe or nail only (go to Q7), choose heel flat (go to Q8), choose tar­sus less than 65mm – TUBENOSES: PETRELS.

Alaska Guide
On TN1, select wing chord more than 20cm, True Petrels. Bill color is dark, under­wing is white, with dark stripe from wrist towards wing­pit: Mot­tled Petrel.

West Coast Guide
On TN1, select wing chord more than 20cm, True Petrels. Bill is thick and short, bill color is black: Gad­fly Petrels (Mot­tled Petrel is one).

The saga of this piece of debris is quite inter­est­ing. This con­tainer lid was found by beach cleaner extra­or­di­naire Russ in Long­beach, WA.

One of our COASST stu­dents, Devin (or shall we call her Sher­lock Holmes), who is flu­ent in Japan­ese, saw this photo and rec­og­nized 有栄七屋商店 as Kanji (Chi­nese char­ac­ters that have been adopted in Japan). She did some sleuthing and dis­cov­ered the lid is from a local Japan­ese gro­cery store (and nailed it down to the address of 5–8 Hon­cho Otsuchi, Kami­hei Dis­trict, Iwate Pre­fec­ture 028‑1116 Japan).

Along with dis­cov­er­ing the source of the lid, Devin found some­thing truly intrigu­ing via Google Street View: the entire loca­tion was flat­tened and washed away by the Tohoku tsunami. The map shows the epi­cen­ter of the Tohoku earth­quake in red, and the store loca­tion that the lid was from in green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at what Paul and Louise found at Bishop’s Beach West ear­lier this year. COASST intern Mal­lory refers to this as an “Octopop­si­cle” — a Giant Pacific Octo­pus washed ashore and frozen in the ice. Accord­ing to NOAA, there are at least seven species of octo­pus in the Gulf of Alaska, but the Giant Pacific Octo­pus (Ente­roc­to­pus dofleini) is by far the most com­mon. The Giant Pacific Octo­pus is able to change the color and tex­ture of its skin at will, mak­ing it an adept hunter and chal­leng­ing oppo­nent when play­ing Hide-and-go-Seek.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns
 

COASST seeks a postdoc

Two year post­doc­toral posi­tion in seabird conservation

The Coastal Obser­va­tion and Seabird Sur­vey Team (COASST) of Uni­ver­sity of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fish­ery Sci­ences, in part­ner­ship with the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife, seek a Post­doc­toral Research Associate.

COASST is a 17-year old cit­i­zen sci­ence pro­gram focused pri­mar­ily on rig­or­ous, effort-controlled, stan­dard­ized, and inde­pen­dently ver­i­fied data on the iden­tity and con­di­tion of beach-cast birds. COASST data are col­lected monthly at ~450 sites from north­ern Cal­i­for­nia north to Cape Lis­burne, Alaska by a diverse col­lec­tive of hun­dreds of coastal res­i­dents who are com­mit­ted to coastal stew­ard­ship and sci­ence as a basis of respon­si­ble decision-making. Addi­tional infor­ma­tion on site char­ac­ter­is­tics and cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion, as well as ver­i­fi­ca­tion and QAQC post-processing, bring the total data­base fields to over 200.

This project is focused on data min­ing with a par­tic­u­lar objec­tive of using the COASST dataset to fur­ther scientifically-based nat­ural resource man­age­ment along the West Coast, and with a goal of pub­li­ca­tion in the peer-reviewed lit­er­a­ture. Poten­tial projects include:

• mod­el­ing the fac­tors affect­ing depo­si­tion rate as a pre­cur­sor to estab­lish­ing a cred­i­ble esti­mate of total car­casses (an index for mor­tal­ity)
• cre­at­ing a time/space and taxon spe­cific model of oil­ing sensitivity

We seek an enthu­si­as­tic, cre­ative team-player who wants to apply their quan­ti­ta­tive skills to the inter­sec­tion of cit­i­zen sci­ence, coastal ecol­ogy and appli­ca­tions to resource man­age­ment. The ideal can­di­date will bring unique skills to add to the COASST team of fac­ulty, stu­dents and staff; and will be avail­able to start by Sep­tem­ber 2015.

Screen­ing of appli­cants will begin on July 1, 2015; appli­ca­tions should be received by June 30th, 2015 to ensure con­sid­er­a­tion. Appli­ca­tions should include: (1) let­ter of inter­est (2) a cur­ricu­lum vitae, includ­ing pub­li­ca­tions, (3) the names and con­tact infor­ma­tion of four indi­vid­u­als who can pro­vide a let­ter of ref­er­ence. Please send all mate­ri­als and any ques­tions to Sarah Dre­rup at sdrerup@uw.edu

What’s Washed In — May 18, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Thank you for all of your help this month! We’ve really enjoyed see­ing your pho­tos and datasheets and hope your sum­mer is get­ting off to a great start.

A big wel­come to our new Alaska COASSTers. We just wrapped up a great series of Beached Bird train­ings in Kodiak, Homer, Seward, Yaku­tat, and Sitka.  We’re look­ing for­ward to bol­ster­ing our data col­lec­tion in these areas.

As you get ready for your next sur­vey, take a peak at your sur­vey kit and let us know if you need any more datasheets, cable ties, chalk, etc.  We’re happy to send sup­plies out to you right away.

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

Lands End (AK) 02/22/15 found by Carol and Janet

Wing: 19 cm
Tar­sus: 35 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 3 toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose tar­sus less than 50mm – Stop: ALCIDS.

Alaska Guide
On AL1, select wing chord greater than 15cm, Large Alcids. Since we don’t have a head, it could be any of the fol­low­ing: AL3, AL5, AL7, AL9, AL11, AL13. White under­wing lin­ing and white-tipped sec­on­daries: must be a murre  – Com­mon Murre or Thick-billed Murre – AL3 or AL5.

West Coast Guide
On AL1, select wing chord greater than 15cm, Large Alcids. From there, choose between AL2, AL6, AL10 or AL12. Only one of these has a white under­wing lin­ing and white-tipped sec­on­daries – Com­mon Murre (since this bird was found in Alaska, could also be the sim­i­lar species: Thick-billed Murre).

Tsoo Yess North (WA) 1/25/15 found by Janet, Sally, Gail, Jim, and guest

Bill: 65 mm
Wing: 27 cm
Tar­sus: 65 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: all webbed – Stop: POUCHBILLS.

Alaska Guide
On PB1, select wing chord less than 35cm – cor­morant. The only one with a pale chin is rare in Alaska: Brandt’s Cormorant.

West Coast Guide
On PB1, select hooked bill with col­ored throat pouch, bill less than 100mm (10cm). Choose between PB2, PB4, PB6. Only one has a dark bill with a tan chin – Brandt’s Cor­morant – correct!


COASST is excited to have a team of mul­ti­lin­gual stu­dents who have vol­un­teered to help with debris iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and trans­la­tion.  Begin­ning this week, we’ll be shar­ing some of their dis­cov­er­ies from COASSTer pho­tos.
Here we have a con­tainer found by Keith on Ore­gon Mile 286. The writ­ing in Japan­ese states “Oofu­nato Fish Mar­ket”. Japan­ese Stud­ies major Devin reports that “Oofu­nato is a city in Iwate pre­fec­ture, east of Mt. Hikami and north­east of Kesen­numa. As Iwate is a neigh­bor­ing pre­fec­ture of Miyagi, the home of Sendai, it is pos­si­ble that this is tsunami debris, or it is pos­si­bly just acci­den­tal lit­ter from the Oofu­nato Fish Market.”


Take a look at this North Amer­i­can River Otter that Judy, Dave, and Karen found a few weeks ago at Dia­mond Point North in Wash­ing­ton.  How can we tell the dif­fer­ence between sea otters and river otters? Check out the feet! Sea otters have paws in front and flip­pers in back, whereas river otters have paws in the front and back, as shown here.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns

What’s Washed In — April 28, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’re all enjoy­ing nice weather on the beach this month. We’ve had a great few weeks at COASST with refresher train­ings in West­port and Long Beach, WA. Thanks to those of you who came out to join us.  It was great to see you!

For those of you in Alaska, we’re headed your way! Over the next 2 weeks, we’ll be in Kodiak, Homer, Seward, Yaku­tat, and Sitka for COASST train­ings. In Sitka, Julia (COASST Exec­u­tive Direc­tor) will also give a talk on “The Nat­ural His­tory of Dead Birds” as part of the Nat­ural His­tory Sem­i­nar Series coor­di­nated by the Uni­ver­sity of Alaska South­east and the Sitka Sound Sci­ence Center.

As we approach the end of the month, if you have any datasheets or pho­tos sit­ting around, please send them our way. We’d love to see them!

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

Samoa Bay Street North (CA) 01/13/15 found by Brenda and William

Bill: 26mm
Wing: 16cm
Tar­sus: 35mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: 3 webbed, 4th free (go to Q5), choose tar­sus not more than 12mm across (go to Q6), choose 4th toe lobed, with flap extend­ing to end of nail – STOP: Water­fowl: Div­ing Ducks.

Alaska Guide
On WF1, select “plain bill” and con­tinue to WF2. Wing has white in the specu­lum and a white patch – SO many choices: WF15, WF19, WF25, WF29, WF31 and WF33. Hey! That wasn’t so bad – only species fits that wing chord: Bufflehead.

West Coast Guide
On WF1, select “white in wing” and “plain bill” – WF13, WF15 and WF23. Great! The wing chord proves this is a Bufflehead.

Fish­ing Rock North (OR) 4/22/15 found by Ann

Bill: 52 mm
Wing: 21 cm (molt­ing into breed­ing plumage!!)
Tar­sus: 73 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes: 3 weebed, 4th free (go to Q5), choose tar­sus more than 12mm across – STOP: Loons.

Alaska Guide
On LO1, bill is less than 60mm, wing chord less than 30mm:
Pacific Loon (LO2)
Red-throated Loon (LO4)
Arc­tic Loon (rare)
Bill is straight, no spot­ting on back or wings, so not a RTLO. Between Pacific and Arc­tic, we need the ven­tral side, to see the dark stripe between the feet. For­tu­nately, the tar­sus is also a bit too long for the Arc­tic Loon (53-65mm) so Pacific it is!

West Coast Guide
On LO1, bill is less than 60mm and straight – Pacific Loon – easy!

Have you ever found one of these and won­dered what it was?

Com­po­nents of a hag­fish trap, shown above, reg­u­larly wash-up on COASST beaches. Bait is placed inside the bar­rel and the “slime eel” swims in through the open­ing of the cone then can’t get back out. The catch is exported to Asian markets.

Have you ever seen this ani­mal on your COASST sur­vey? Here’s a photo of one found by Linda at Short Beach in Oregon.

Even though they may look like jel­ly­fish with their sim­ple gelati­nous form, these bar­rel shaped gelati­nous crea­tures are actu­ally tuni­cates or saclike filter-feeders known as sea salps.  Salps are about 4 inches long and pump water through their gelati­nous bod­ies as they move, catch­ing food in the process. Capa­ble of fast asex­ual repro­duc­tion, sea salps can form large com­mu­ni­ties, link­ing together in long lumi­nous chains some­times more than 4 meters long under water.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

Cheers,
Erika, Julia, Jane, Hillary, Char­lie, Heidi, Jenn, and the COASST Interns

What’s Washed In — March 31, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’re all enjoy­ing the start of Spring! It’s been a busy month at COASST, with national and regional media atten­tion. Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Julia Par­rish was recently fea­tured on the March 20 edi­tion of Sci­ence Fri­day, COASST data were fea­tured in the recent Pacific States Fish­eries Man­age­ment Coun­cil Meet­ing, as #9 of the 12 main high­lights in the Cal­i­for­nia Cur­rent Inte­grated Ecosys­tem Assess­ment (CCIEA), State of the Cal­i­for­nia Cur­rent Report, 2015, and a num­ber of COASSTers were fea­tured in recent news cov­er­age. A big thanks for all of your hard work! Check out the lat­est on our web­site in the COASSTal News sec­tion. We’re so proud to have all of you rep­re­sent­ing COASST!

Let’s take a look at what’s washed in recently:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anchor River Recre­ation Area (AK) 03/14/15 found by Lisa

Bill: 45
Wing: 20
Tar­sus: 39

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose three toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose foot not huge – STOP: Alcids.

Alaska Guide
On AL1, veer left – wing chord is more than 15cm. Bill is dark, slen­der and fea­ture­less, upper­wing is dark –check out these four species:
Com­mon Murre (AL3)
Thick-billed Murre (AL5)
Pigeon Guille­mot (AL7)
Black Guille­mot (AL7)
Look care­fully – the face has a dark eye­line, or “tear­line” – (see key char­ac­ter 2 on the AL3). The Thick-billed Murre has a dark face with a white chin. Non-breeding guille­mots with white under­parts lack this eye­line; the bill, wing and tar­sus mea­sure­ments for this bird do not fit for the PIGU or BLGU. Com­mon Murre – correct!

West Coast Guide
On AL1, veer left – wing chord is more than 15cm. Bill is dark, smooth/slender and fea­ture­less, inves­ti­gate these two options:
Com­mon Murre (AL2)
Pigeon Guille­mot (AL10)
The bill, wing and tar­sus mea­sure­ments do not fit for Pigeon Guille­mot and the under­wing is white – Com­mon Murre – great work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby South (WA) 1/20/15 found by Janis and Jody

Bill: 17 mm
Wing: 13.5 cm
Tar­sus: 18 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose three toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose foot not huge – STOP: Alcids.

Alaska Guide
On AL1, veer right – wing chord is less than 15cm. Bill is dark, with­out a spot – one of the mur­relets:
Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL17)
Kittlitz’s Mur­relet (AL19)
Bill is too long for a KIMU and the eye is within the dark part of the face – Mar­bled Mur­relet – nice!

West Coast Guide
On AL1, veer right – wing chord is more than 15cm. Bill is dark, so we’re left with a few options:
Com­mon Murre-juvenile/chick (AL4)
Mar­bled Mur­relet (AL14)
* Ancient Mur­relet (AL16)
* Kittlitz’s Mur­relet (AL20)
* Least Auk­let (AL24)
* Whiskered Auk­let (AL26)
(* = rare, included in the 2002 ver­sion only)
Not a Com­mon Murre chick – it’s Jan­u­ary! And besides, this bird has white shoul­der patches and dark sec­on­daries and no dark eye­line. Mea­sure­ments fit for Mar­bled Mur­relet, but let’s exam­ine the rar­i­ties:
Ancient Mur­relet – nope, dark shoul­der
Kittlitz’s Mur­relet – nope, bill too small
Least Auk­let and Whiskered Auk­let – nope, bil and wing too small
Yep, it is a Mar­bled Murrelet.

  

Mike and Chig­gers’ marine debris sur­veys at Nor­we­gian Memo­r­ial (WA) tell an inter­est­ing story. Their beach con­sis­tently catches  A LOT of bot­tles and bot­tle frag­ments, many with Asian writ­ing. Seen here is the haul from a sin­gle zone in a sin­gle tran­sect. A well weath­ered Puma shoe also washed up for their Decem­ber sur­vey. The stitch­ing and lace holes make us think these are “vin­tage”. Do they remind any­one else of bas­ket­ball prac­tice in the 70s?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wash­ing­ton COASSTers Lee and Sue were lucky enough to come across this Hum­boldt squid dur­ing their Feb­ru­ary sur­vey of Three Crabs Beach.

Also referred to as Jumbo squid, these giants are able to swim with speeds of up to 15 miles per hour and are known to eject them­selves from the water to escape preda­tors. While the col­or­ing of this squid is mostly white, these cephalopods are able to change their appear­ance in shades of pur­ple, red and white.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

What’s Washed In — March 13, 2015

Hi COASSTers,

Hope you’re all enjoy­ing some sun­shine on your beaches this month. It’s been a busy few weeks at COASST.

 Since our last update, we’ve held train­ings and events in all four COASST states (Alaska, Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, and Cal­i­for­nia), catch­ing up with many COASSTers both near and far. COASST staff also attended the inau­gural Cit­i­zen Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence, the Pacific Seabird Group annual meet­ing, and the Alaska Forum on the Envi­ron­ment. Addi­tion­ally, we hosted two COASST Advi­sory Board meet­ings, with lots of inter­ac­tion between our advi­sors (arriv­ing all the from as far away as New York!) and prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tors for spe­cial projects.The COASST interns have been extra busy this quar­ter, prepar­ing for train­ings, work­ing on the­new marine debris mod­ule, and enter­ing data on many, many Cassin’s Auk­lets. After finals next week, they’re ready for a well-deserved spring break.Speaking of hard work, thank you to all of you for your help this month! We couldn’t do it with­out you, and we look for­ward to see­ing your next datasheets and photos.Let’s take a look at What’s Washed In recently:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Dev­ils Way­side (OR) 2/22/15 found by Karen

Wing: 41 cm

Alaska Wing Key– page 44

Q1 – choose “mot­tled man­tle, brown, gray or white (go to Q29)
Q29 – choose “mot­tling through­out man­tle (go to Q30)
Q30 – with this wing chord mea­sure­ment we’re left with:
–female eiders (WF21, WF23, WF25, WF27)
–Large Imma­ture Gull (LA4)
Only one of these options allows for a wing chord of 41cm – Large Imma­ture Gull – correct!

West Coast Wing Key – page 33

Q1 – choose “man­tle with vari­able mot­tling: brown, gray or white” (go to Q14)
Q14 – choose “mot­tling through­out man­tle” (go to Q15)
Q15 – with this wing chord mea­sure­ment, we’re left with:
–Large Imma­ture Gull (LA3)
–Canada Goose (WF19)
–Caspian Tern (LA19)
–Snow Goose (rare)
–Greater White-fronted Goose (rare)
Wing tips of this bird are pale – not black or dark brown, per CATE and CAGO – Large Imma­ture Gull it is!

West Coast Wing Table – page 32

Choose row, “Extra large, wing chord 33-43cm”
Choose col­umn, “mot­tled brown man­tle”
At this inter­sec­tion, we’re pre­sented with:
Large Imma­ture Gull (LIGU, LA3)
South Polar Skua (SPSK, LA29)
Poma­rine Jaeger (POJA, LA27)
Heermann’s Gull-juvenile (HEER, LA21)
Of these, HEER and POJA are shorter than 41cm, and SPSK has a bright white patch at the base of the pri­maries – Large Imma­ture Gull is the only one left!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Spit (CA) 3/1/15 found by Don and Grace
Bill: 32 mm
Wing: 17 cm
Tar­sus: 29 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22

Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose three toes: all webbed (go to Q4), choose foot not huge – STOP: Alcids.

Alaska Guide

On AL1 veer left – wing chord is more than 15cm. Bill is orange, with a dif­fer­ent col­ored base – select “yellow-to-dark orange, w/ grooves or horn,” and pro­ceed to these three species pages:
Tufted Puf­fin (AL9)
Horned Puf­fin (AL11)
Rhi­noc­eros Auk­let (AL13)
Bill is way too small for either the Tufted Puf­fin or Horned Puf­fin – Rhi­noc­eros Auklet!

West Coast Guide

On AL1 veer left – wing chord is more than 15cm. Bill is orange, with a dif­fer­ent col­ored base – select “yellow-to-dark orange, w/ grooves or horn (or in the ear­lier edi­tion: orange with dis­tinct grooves, horn or bump)”. We’re left with the “true puffins:”
Rhi­noc­eros Auk­let (AL6)
Tufted Puf­fin (AL12)
(Horned Puf­fin, AL12 – some guides have TUPU and HOPU com­bined)
Bill is way too small for either the Tufted Puf­fin or Horned Puf­fin – Rhi­noc­eros Auklet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wish­ing all of you a happy (belated) Valen­tines Day! This bal­lon was found by Jeff Adams way back in April of 2013.

Bal­lons are com­monly ingested by marine life like sea tur­tles because they are sim­i­lar in size and move­ment (“floppy”) to the jel­ly­fish they eat. With the ulti­mate goal of pre­vent­ing these and other impacts of marine debris, COASST’s efforts will quan­tify and help iden­tify the sources of objects, like bal­loons, that are mis­taken for prey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Har­bor Por­poise was found washed up by COASSTers in Hum­boldt. Com­monly seen in coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean, the por­poise is the small­est of the cetacean fam­ily, which also includes whales and dol­phins. While they tend to be inde­pen­dent feed­ers, they can some­times be spot­ted in groups of 4–6 search­ing for food along the sur­face of the water. Also com­monly seen is the Dall’s por­poise, which is slightly larger and has black col­oration with white oval mark­ings on their sides and bellies.

Seen some­thing on the beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!

What’s Washed In — February 6, 2015

Hi COASSTers,
Thank you for all of your great emails, pho­tos, and datasheets recently.  We really appre­ci­ate all of your efforts, espe­cially with the Cassin’s Auk­let wreck. For the 11th week run­ning, Cassin’s Auk­lets still WAY out­num­ber other species on COASST sur­veys – you can view the updated graphic with December’s num­bers here.

For Ore­gon COASSTers headed out this week­end, be aware that there is a poten­tial “dam­ag­ing wind storm” in the fore­cast for Sun­day after­noon. Remem­ber, your safety is always the #1 pri­or­ity! Please avoid sur­vey­ing if it is dangerous.

If you do have nice weather on your next sur­vey, how­ever, we’d love your help with a spe­cial project. COASST is look­ing to cre­ate a col­lec­tion of high qual­ity beach pho­tos fea­tur­ing you!

If you have a chance on your next sur­vey to take a few pho­tos of you or your sur­vey partner/team with your beach in the back­ground, we would love to gather these for future use on the new COASST web­site or in COASST presentations.

Hope you all have a great week­end! We can’t wait to see your photos!

Let’s take a look a what’s washed in lately:

Puale Bay (AK) 7/20/14 found by Susan, Jacob, Car­rick, Jaime, and Sarah

Bill: 53 mm

Wing: 27.5 cm

Tar­sus: 61 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose webbed (go to Q2), choose com­pletely webbed (go to Q3), choose 4 toes, all webbed (Pouch­bills: STOP).

Alaska Guide
On PB1, select wing chord less than 35cm. This bird doesn’t have a tan or orange chin, so it’s a Pelagic or Red-faced cor­morant. Com­pletely dark bill = Pelagic!

West Coast Guide
On PB1, bypass pel­i­cans (bill larger than 10cm = 100mm) and move to cor­morants. Dark chin and dark bill = Pelagic

.

.Fort Fla­gler West (WA) 1/18/15 found by Nancy

Bill: 26 mm

Wing: 12 cm

Tar­sus: 25 mm

Alaska Foot Key – page 34
West Coast Foot Key – page 22
Choose free (go to Q9), choose three toes, all front (Shore­birds: 3-toed: STOP).

Alaska Guide
On SB1, we have either a Black Oys­ter­catcher (SB10) or Sander­ling (rare). Black Oys­ter­catcher is WAY too large – plumage and bill are not a match. Stick with the Sanderling.

West Coast Guide
At SB1, we’re left with Sander­ing (SB4), plovers and Black Oys­ter­catcher (rare). Turns out, this IS a Sander­ling – straight, black bill, dark wrist and wingtips.

.
.
 Debris or not debris? That is the question…in the case of the mys­te­ri­ous “plas­tic strings” that Vir­ginia and Jean often find in their marine debris sam­ples at South Ocean (WA). After see­ing these sur­vey pho­tos, Hillary was curi­ous about their ori­gin and iden­tity. Vir­ginia and Jean kindly sent sam­ples into the COASST office, where we were all per­plexed. Review under a micro­scope revealed that the strings had cell struc­tures, indi­cat­ing that they were likely actu­ally dried up plant or algae mate­r­ial. Sus­pect­ing that they might be a sea­grass or some­thing sim­i­lar, intern Ruth took the mag­ni­fied images below and sent them, along with a few sam­ples to a team of sea­grass experts at Fri­day Har­bor Labs.

Their con­clu­sion? Sun bleached and dried Bur-reed, latin genus Spar­ga­nium, a plant closely related to cat-tails.  Mys­tery solved!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not every­day that you see a fish washed in with another fish in its mouth! Take a look at the sculpins that Tasha and Chuck found at Spring Creek (AK). Sculpins are ben­thic, or bot­tom dwelling fish that can be found in a wide vari­ety of habi­tats in both fresh and salt­wa­ter. While some sculpins are just cen­time­ters in length like the ones pic­tured here, other species (of the 300+) can reach about 60 cm (or ~2 ft!).
Have you seen some­thing on your beach you’ve always won­dered about? Send us a photo!