New Footprints – Erin Tomaras

Everyone knows our student interns keep the COASST office buzzing along. We took a step back and realized over 150 University of Washington undergraduate students have been part of the COASST effort, committing over 13,500 hours to the program in total!

Today, and in posts to come, we highlight what some of our graduated students are up to.

Erin Tomaras, COASST Intern (later, Senior Intern) contributed a whopping 390 hours of service, March 2009-June 2012. With her heart set on field work from the day she graduated, she’s now working for a non-profit on South Padre Island, Texas called Sea Turtle Inc. “On my non-patrol days I work in the clinic helping sea turtles that have been hit by boat propellers, attacked by predators, caught in fishing line, or are sick with infection. I also educate visitors about the different species of sea turtles, what impacts humans have in sea turtles, and the condition of turtles in our care.”

Erin, "with my first momma Kemp's Ridley sea turtle"

Erin, “with my first momma Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle!”

And on the patrol days?  No, she doesn’t wear armor or dress in camo, “I monitor 64 miles of beach on an ATV for nesting Kemp’s Ridley mommas. This is harder than it sounds because this species is the smallest type of sea turtle and it only nests on windy days – tracks often disappear in the course of a half hour.” COASSTers, of course, are well aware of the difficulties of finding birds in sand, let alone tracks!

"This was 2 weeks ago - injured Least Tern from the beach road on one of my patrols."

“This was 2 weeks ago – injured Least Tern from the beach road on one of my patrols.”

When you’re around COASST that long, you can’t help but look out for birds on the beach. In fact, she sent us this email, and true to COASST form, a quiz to our current students (and all of you):

“Hi Jane, Since I have been down here in Texas, I have spotted a few beached birds during my sea turtle ATV patrols. It seems I’ve still got my eyes subconsciously peeled for them. I thought you might be interested to see some beached birds from the Gulf. You should try these photos on the interns!”

So we share them (careful, only one is in the Beached Birds guide, none of these are in the Beached Birds-Alaska guide).

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery bird #1 from Erin.

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery bird #1 from Erin.

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery bird #2 from Erin.

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery bird #2 from Erin.

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery birds #3 from Erin.

Texas/Gulf Coast mystery bird #3 from Erin.

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