Tag Archives: Alaska

What’s Washed In

We have been seeing lots of interesting things being found out on the COASST beaches. Here are a few of the many photos that have been sent in recently:


The tiniest of tubenoses, this is a Leach’s Storm-Petrel found in North Oregon. All dark upperwing and a small wing chord of less than 18cm puts us in the “tiny” category of the West Coast guide, and a similar spot in the Alaska guide, one shared with many of the small Alcids (e.g., Marbled Murrelet, Cassin’s Auklet). Underwing linings are not white (you’ll have to trust us on this point) so we’re left with Storm-Petrels. Of those, only the Leach’s has a white rump and dark brown (vs. light gray) plumage.


A Large Immature Gull entangled in blue filament (see left leg) found in the Puget Sound. Entangled birds make up about 0.5% of all birds found during COASST surveys in any year. Look carefully at that bill – dark and hooked, but no tube or separate bill plates, so it’s not a shearwater or a jaeger.


There’s only a few species with white in the upperwing and the secondary feathers – Ivory Gull, Glaucous Gull, Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan or Snow Goose. Dark primary feathers tell us this is a Snow Goose-light morph, found in the Chukchi Sea (it’s finally melting up there!)


A rubber cat found on the South Coast of Washington – perhaps used as an under-pet-bowl placemat?


Finally, a glass ampoule (sealed vial) found on the South Coast of Washington. Modern ampoules are mostly used to contain injectable pharmaceuticals. The best way to dispose of an item like this and other medications is through a local pharmacy, or National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, or via the FDA’s suggested method.

You never know what you may find out on those beaches!

Rat Poison on Kodiak Beaches

A Kodiak Island Beach

The morning of March 31, two empty rat poison canisters were found on Afognak Island in Kodiak, AK. Rat poison usually comes in pellet form, used to fumigate grain ships. The aluminum phosphide containing pellets, when exposed to the moisture in the air, produce the poisonous gas phosphine which is powerful enough to kill rats and even humans (with enough exposure). It turns out that the canisters, found by local Kodiak resident Ian MacIntosh, were pellet containing. Luckily for MacIntosh he knew to be cautious with the containers due to public awareness campaigns created by the Washington Department of Ecology between 2008 and 2012 after nearly 100 of these containers washed up. The origin of these containers remains unknown, however they have also began to wash up along the coast of Oregon and Vancouver Island as well. The best thing to do is to avoid contact with the containers and instead, report the canisters immediately.

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