Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team Program, or COASST, was inspired by
the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Dr. Julia Parrish came to Alaska when the disaster happened and
realized that without a baseline, it was hard to scientifically determine how much
damage the spill had done to wildlife populations. She went back to Washington and ten years
later, in 1999, she started COASST. The program relies on scientists and
everyday beachcombers to report bird carcasses along beaches in from
northernmost Alaska to California.
Dolliver oversees the Alaska
region for COASST. She gives an example of how the data might be used.
-- (coasst 1 :26 "So
maybe the mortality was pretty spread amongst species except one species
experienced a lot of mortality and then
you can say ‘we never actually get common muirs, for instance, on this beach
during this time of year' and we know that because of the baseline. And so for
common muirs it actually represents 80 percent more mortality than we usually
program is housed at the University of
of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and
receives funding from the North Pacific Research Board, the Alaska Fishery
and several other state and federal agencies. Dolliver says their work helps
scientists explain what might otherwise be mysterious die offs and can identify
species that are especially at risk.
-- (coasst 2 :19 "I
don't think that there's been any necessarily unexplained events. Usually when
you move back and hindcast and try to figure those out, various ocean
conditions or things pop in to the picture, then the story can be explained.
program in Alaska
has over 160 workers, with 10 to 15 of those in Kodiak. Some are
some participate in the program through their jobs, namely those who
work in Alaska's Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in the Aleutians.
Dolliver says COASST will visit Kodiak in
March or April to offer a training workshop for those interested in the
Learn more here .