Guest Speaker: Dr. Julia Parrish
Hands-on citizen science offers an opportunity to collect environmental data over stretches of space and time that no research lab could hope to attain on its own. It also offers a unique opportunity for non-academics to connect with the practice of science. The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) is a 21-year-old environmental citizen science project that trains participants to identify what floats in on the tide.
COASST beached seabird data have been used in academic research and resource management, and have empowered thousands of coastal residents to monitor marine ecosystem health. Between 2014 and 2020, COASST documented a series of mass mortality events, collectively accounting for millions of birds, and including a die-off of Rhinoceros Auklets in Puget Sound. Beyond the documentation of mortality events, COASST data suggest that: (1) people are highly motivated to contribute to place-based science; (2) with rigorous training, non-scientists are as good as scientists at data collection; and (3) program participants are hungry for ecosystem knowledge.
Julia K. Parrish is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of the Environment at the University of Washington, where she holds a Lowell A. and Frankie L. Wakefield Professorship in Ocean Fishery Sciences. She is a marine biologist, conservation biologist, and specialist in citizen science.She is the founder and Executive Director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team.