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Help Out on Oregon Coast with Marine Debris Survey, Black Oystercatcher Monitoring

Published 04/16/22 at 5:32 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Help Out on Oregon Coast with Marine Debris Survey, Black Oystercatcher Monitoring

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(Oregon Coast) – One way to really get down deep into the Oregon coast is something called voluntourism – a hybrid of being a visitor here while helping out in a way that lets you truly enjoy the outdoors in a whole new manner. You're doing some good for Oregon coast science or in the environmental sense, but you're learning and being hands-on while seeing new sights along the beaches. (Above: a black oystercatcher, courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

There are numerous such activities going on constantly, and two of the more interesting projects are the Black Oystercatcher Project up and down the entire length of the coast and the Maine Debris Survey on the Clatsop Spit between Warrenton and Seaside. Both have put out calls recently for volunteers – and it's a worthy cause yet an opportunity for fun.

Volunteer organization CoastWatch conducts numerous marine debris surveys along these shores, and one of the large ones is at Fort Stevens State Park, just south of the Columbia’s South Jetty.

Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

“More volunteers are needed to fill out the team, headed by Oregon Shores board member Ed Joyce, which handles the monthly survey at this site,” said CoastWatch. “We seek to organize a large enough team that some members can be there every month, without any one person having to be there each time.”

Upcoming dates for shoreline marine debris training are April 20, May 18 and June 22. This isn’t just practice, though - the actual survey will be conducted. Meet at 10 a.m. at Parking Lot B, about three-quarters of a mile south of the Columbia on Jetty Rd. in Fort Stevens State Park.

As with all CoastWatch’s marine debris survey sites, the survey is conducted monthly, to supply consistent data. Everyone is welcome to participate in this citizen science project, CoastWatchers and non-CoastWatchers alike. While the goal is to recruit volunteers who will participate at this site, anyone is welcome to join in.

This is serious citizen science, employing a protocol developed by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and producing data used by scientists studying the marine debris problem.

For more information on the upcoming survey event or plans for the Fort Stevens survey site, contact Ed Joyce, (503) 468-0995, RSVPs would be helpful, so Ed can provide some background information in advance and will know who to look for on the day.

Courtesy Seaside Aquarium

For the entire Oregon coast – from Brookings to Seaside – the Portland Audubon is hoping to find more volunteers to assist with the monitoring of black oystercatchers.

If you're interested in participating in this upcoming project, sign up for the virtual training from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28. The training will cover the life history of this species, conservation challenges they face, and instructions on how to participate in the nest monitoring program this summer. To sign up, email

The idea is to determine if nests are successful, indicated by eggs hatching and the young leaving the nests. Nest monitoring is conducted from May through August at 75 sites up and down the coast, from Brookings to Seaside. See the Audobon link here.

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Photos below Seaside Aquarium

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