Forks Evening Talk tonight to focus on seabird die-offs

FORKS — The public is invited to a free Evening Talk about seabird die-offs at the Olympic Natural Resources Center at 7 tonight.

Julia Parrish, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and executive director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, a citizen science program of the University of Washington, will be the speaker at the ONRC, 1455 S. Forks Ave.

Given numerous recent seabird die-offs, Parrish will be speaking about the natural history of dead birds and the stories they tell about the marine environment. There will also be a short discussion on a new citizen science effort with COASST, looking at marine debris.

In 2009, thousands of surf scoters washed ashore along the outer coast. In 2014, tens of thousands of Cassin’s auklets littered beaches from Haida Gwaii in British Columbia south to Newport, Ore. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of beach-cast common murres were found from California north to the Gulf of Alaska.

This year, thousands of rhinoceros auklets died in the Salish Sea.

Is the coastal ecosystem collapsing? Parrish wondered about this almost 20 years ago when she created COASST.

Stretching from Mendocino, Calif., north to Kotzebue, Alaska, COASST is now the largest beached bird program in the world. With more than 75,000 birds found and counting, COASSTers discover the patterns that define normal annual signals — the pulse of exhausted breeders and lost chicks after the breeding season, the pulse of over-wintering migrants caught in the first storms of fall, a natural history of dead birds.

With this almanac, COASST data have been used to assess the impacts of a changing climate, document harmful algal blooms, measure fishery interactions, monitor for avian influenza and help understand how ancient coastal peoples survived.

For more information, contact Frank Hanson at 360-374-4556 or email [email protected].

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