Tag Archives: Fish

What’s Washed In – February 6, 2015

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!

What’s Washed In – December 15, 2014


Happy Holidays! Hope that all of you are doing well and enjoying this busy time of year. The COASST office is a bit quiet this month, as most of our fantastic 22 interns are off enjoying winter break.  We’re looking forward to having them back in January!

If you’re on the COASST mailing list, keep an eye out for the 2014 COASST Holiday Card, which should be reaching mailboxes sometime soon! If you aren’t on our mailing list and would like to be, just let us know.

Let’s take a look at What’s Washed In recently:











Naknek Beach (AK) 10/08/14 found by Jodi

Wing: 34 cm

One wing leaves us only one option: the wing key (or table)!

Alaska wing key (page 44):
Choose gray (go to Q25), choose dark wingtips with white windows and fingernails: Mew Gull is the only one that fits!

West Coast wing key (page 33):
Choose gray (go to Q10), wingtips contrast, dark-to-black (go to Q12), solid gray except for wingtip (go to Q13):
Mew Gull (LA17)
Ring-billed Gull (LA11)
California Gull (LA9)
Only one of these has a white “knuckle” band across the primaries (from the feather tip, a white-black-white-gray pattern).

West Coast wing table (page 32):
Choose row = extra large (wing chord 33-43cm) and column “gray mantle w/ white linings and black tips.” We’re left with:
Mew Gull (LA17)
Ring-billed Gull (LA11)
California Gull (LA9)
Western Gull (LA5)
Herring Gull (LA15)
Caspian Tern (LA19)

We can eliminate the WEGU, HEGU and CATE (wing chord too large). Now we’re left with MEGU, RBGU and CAGU – only the MEGU has a white “knuckle” band across the primaries (from the feather tip, a white-black-white-gray pattern).









Port Williams (WA) 11/18/14 found by Sandy

Bill: 63 mm
Wing: 33 cm
Tarsus: 71 mm

Alaska foot key (page 34), West Coast foot key (page 22):
Webbed (go to Q2), completely webbed (go to Q3), 4 toes, all webbed: Pouchbills (PB1).

Alaska PB1:
Wing chord is not more than 45cm, so we’re left with one of four cormorants:
Pelagic Cormorant (PB2)
Red-faced Cormorant (PB4)
Double-crested Cormorant (PB6)
Brandt’s Cormorant (rare)
Only one has yellow-orange facial skin: Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO).

West Coast guide PB1:
Bill is less than 10cm (100mm), so we’re left with one of three cormorants:
Brandt’s Cormorant (PB2)
Pelagic Cormorant (PB4)
Double-crested Cormorant (PB6)
Only one has a yellow-orange bill with similar-colored facial skin and throat pouch: Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO).





















For those of you who surveyed following the big storm that affected the lower states last week, was your experience like Mike and Chiggers’ at Mosquito and Goodman beaches on December 14th? They found a “wreck” of foam, rope fragments, and plastic bottles (hundreds!).




















Have you seen any interesting fish wash in to your beach? Take a look at this one found by Julia at Cowlitz Bay (WA) on December 7. Duane Stevenson, a NOAA Fish Biologist, verified this to be a lingcod, as Julia suspected (Great job, Julia!). Lingcod are sometimes called “bucketheads” because they have a really large head and a large mouth.  They also have 18 sharp needle-like teeth (shown here in Julia’s photo). Lingcod grow very quickly and reach up to 5 feet in length!

Speaking of fish, Lee and Sue who survey Three Crabs Beach (WA), recently mentioned that a few years ago, they encountered a lancetfish that had washed in. A very cool rare find!

Have you seen something on your beach you’ve always wondered about? Send us a photo!

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

New Footprints – Rosalind Huang


Rosalind shows off an Dolly Varden (Salvelinus alpinus – sometimes referred to as Char, Arctic Char or Bull Trout) from Alaska.

Ever wonder what paths past COASST interns take after their time with COASST? This week, we asked Rosalind, a University of Washington graduate, what adventures she has taken on since interning for COASST.

As Rosalind’s COASST internship came to an end, Rosalind decided to mix things up and accepted an internship with Washington Sea Grant. Rosalind found her internship with Washington Sea Grant to be “a totally different type of internship” compared to COASST. During this internship, Rosalind was responsible for organizing publications and conducting library searches. When asked how this experience influenced her career in the environmental field, Rosalind told COASST, “the experience helped tremendously later on for [her] own research.”

While talking with Rosalind, she emphasized the importance of having connections and the courage to speak with different people about various open opportunities that one could apply for. She gave an example of a time when she once asked our very own Seabird Program Coordinator, Jane Dolliver, if she knew anyone in Taiwan who was involved with Seabird Research. Rosalind, originally from Taiwan, was planning a trip back home and thought it would be interesting to go meet someone while she was there. After being referred to a professor at the National Taiwan Ocean University, Rosalind ended up helping Congratulafins, a non-governmental organization whose mission is to stop shark fining, with their social media and different campaigns.

Now, Rosalind is settled in California where she is working full time at a smart watch company and volunteering for Congratulafins part time. When asked what her next big move will be, Rosalind said she plans “to go back to school in a few years for more fish-related studies.”

What’s Washed In

With all this great summer weather, we hope you are enjoying lots of time on the beach (for a survey or for fun)! Our inbox keeps filling with new and exciting COASST finds. Here are a few things that have washed ashore recently:

Greater White-fronted Gooose

A Greater White-fronted Goose found by Tom and Connie on the South Coast of Washington. This is a rare find for COASST (less than 40 documented!). You won’t find this species in the field guide. However, those three webbed front toes and bulbous forth toe will put this bird in the “Waterfowl: Tippers and Geese” category.

Pacific Loon

A Pacific Loon found by Melissa in Humboldt. Check out those wide flattened-like-a-knife tarsi: definitely a loon! Looking up the LO section in Beached Birds, we see that small loons (Pacific and Red-throated) can be separated from the Common Loon by their wing size. The Pacific Loon can be distinguished from the Red-throated Loon by its straight (as opposed to upturned bill – second photo shows this best), and limited spotting across the back.

Brandt's Cormorant

A Brandt’s Cormorant found by Olli, Carolyn, and Keith in Oregon North. The dark bill and a tan chin rule out the smaller, Pelagic Cormorant (featured in our last email) and the Double Crested Cormorant (stout orange bill or black bill with white face plumes).

Pacific Lamprey

Pacific Lamprey – part of a class of animals (Agnatha) without jaws, ribs or paired fins.

A Pacific Lamprey found by Candace, in Oregon South. A first-ever find for a COASST survey! Although this fish won’t be winning any beauty contests with its mouth full of yellowish paired (or tripled) teeth, it is pretty important conservation-wise.

Lots of yellow rope found by Heidi and team out on the North Coast of Washington! These 30cm (12in) fragments of small diameter polypropylene could have a couple of possible origins. Rope like this is often used in recreational fisheries, perhaps from a larger length encountered at the surface, wound around, then cut from a propeller. This type of rope is also used in oyster culture and cut as the crop is harvested. With rope, larger loop fragments pose and entanglement hazard (especially to seals), fragments pose an ingestion threat, based on length, to many marine species.