NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Seeks Citizen Stewards for Beach Watch Program

February 25, 2008

Black-necked Stilts.
Black-necked Stilts in the shallow water of an estuary.

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is now recruiting volunteers for its Beach Watch shoreline monitoring program, which played a key role in the response to the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill. Orientations and training will be held beginning this spring at several San Francisco Bay Area locations.

Orientation spaces are limited, and reservations are required. Volunteers must be 18 or older and commit to monthly surveys for a one-year minimum. Approximately 80 hours of classroom and field training in marine mammal and seabird identification and data collection is provided; some wildlife identification skills are desirable. Orientation sessions will be held the following dates in March:

Mandatory training sessions will take place in April and May on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturdays at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary offices, 991 Marine Drive, West Crissy Field in the San Francisco Presidio. Several field trips are included in the training.

Stellar sea lions, one of several endangered species making a comeback in the Gulf of the Farallones.

+ High Resolution (Credit NOAA)

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary staff launched the Beach Watch coastal monitoring program in 1993, providing long-term regular shoreline surveys spanning the Gulf of the Farallones and northern Monterey Bay national marine sanctuaries. Data gathered provide sanctuary management with information on seabirds and marine mammals, whose abundance or stranding patterns can be indicators of ecosystem health.

Program participants conduct wildlife surveys, document human use of beaches, report violations, monitor pollution and collect oil samples. The area surveyed spans 150 miles of coast from Point Año Nuevo to Bodega Head. The nonprofit Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association manages the Beach Watch volunteers and database for the sanctuary.

During the November 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill, Beach Watch volunteers were among the first on the scene. In testimony given at the Nov. 19 congressional subcommittee hearing on the Cosco Busan spill, the Beach Watch program was singled out for its preparedness and swift action in getting trained volunteers into the field. For more information, contact Shannon Lyday at 415-561-6625 x 302.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.