Tag Archives: Marbled Murrelet

What’s Washed In – March 31, 2015


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 – July 28

Hope all of you are enjoying the last week of July! Thanks so much for sending in all of your great photos and datasheets. We’ve had a fun few weeks, training new volunteers and catching up with current COASSTers in Crescent City (CA), Bandon (OR), and Coupeville (WA). This week, we’re starting summer check-ins.  If you have any datasheets lying around or if you need any supplies at all, please let us know.  We’re always happy to help!

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

A copyBill: 16 mm, Wing: 13 cm, Tarsus: 18 mm

Peter and Helen found this on Haskin Beach on the North Coast of Washington on June 3rd.

California COASSTers don’t jump too fast on this one! 3-webbed toe, no hind toe – and from the general size, looks like a juvenile Common Muurre, except that’s not just bright lighting – the foot is pale.

West Coast Beached Birds: on AL1, select wc<15cm, bill color dark – Marbled Murrelet (AL14) is the only one with dark secondary tips on fully-grown wings (primaries extend much farther than secondaries)

Alaska Beached Birds: on AL1, select wc<15cm, move to AL2, select dark bill. Here we’re left with Marbled Murrelet (AL17) of Kittlitz’s Murrelet (AL19) – bill and tarsus are too long for a Kittlitz’s – Marbled Murrelet, that’s correct!

BBill: 54 mm, Wing: 44 cm, Tarsus: 67 mm

Randy and Jim found this bird on Churchrock Beach on the Chukchi Sea in Alaska on June 21st. This gull has not “been through the wash too many times” – it’s a species with unique plumage, and rare for West Coast COASSTers (you guys can sit out on this one).

Alaska Beached Birds wing key (‘cause the foot is hidden): Select upperwing white-to-nearly-white, and with a wing chord of 44 cm, we have our match – Glaucous Gull (LA10), a subadult since the bill tip is dark.

C2 copyBill: 50 mm

Candace really pulled out the fine-tooth comb on this bird found on Otter Point in Oregon on July 1st. With just a bill, we’re a little on our own with identification. No worries! We’ve got this!

Luckily, don’t have to turn too far to find the first match – dark bill, straight, 50mm. We’re left with Common Murre (wc: AL2, ak: AL3), Pacific Loon (LO2), Red-throated Loon (wc: LO6, ak: LO4), American Crow (wc: PE2) or Common Raven (ak: LB4). Bill depth (perpendicular measurement from upper to lower bill) removes crows and ravens from the running. Between the Common Murre and the two small loons, look at the placement of the nostril – for murres, the nostril is under the “V” of feathers, for the small loons it’s at the point of the “V,” or slightly above. Good work – Common Murre, adult, breeding plumage.large debrisThis huge marine debris item was found on March 10th by LoAnne on Washaway Beach. This piece is extremely weathered and multi colored. Characteristics like these are clues to how long marine debris had been in the water and where pieces may have come from.

balloonOn July 19th, Hillary led the interns and students from a marine biology class on a field trip to Ocean Shores. Their marine debris surveys documented plenty of lasting evidence from 4th of July celebrations, including the remnants of this parachute firework. A double whammy for potential harm to wildlife: this object is red which may attract some birds more than other debris, and it has several small loops which pose a risk of entanglement.

Skate eggs How cool is this mermaid’s purse?! No, we’re not kidding, this really is called a mermaid purse. These skate eggs were found by Janice at Oregon Mile Marker 309. Although they sometimes wash ashore, skate eggs belong in the water on the sea floor, where they grow and eventually hatch. The eggs are covered a sack to protect them from predators. Hundreds of skate species have been identified and their egg sacks can be distinguished by size, length, and color. Eggs can range in size but are typically found to be very small, only a few cm in length.