The purpose of this study is to survey the vertebrates (primarily birds and mammals) living on and around Pacifica's beaches. Changes in abundance of certain animals should be apparent with different seasons, weather conditions and unusual occurrences such as oil spills and El Nino events.
Download the Data Sheet. It can be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica will be monitored on a weekly basis during the
months of February through May. Linda Mar (Pacifica State Beach) is at the far
South end of Pacifica. Recorders should walk the length of each beach in a zigzag
pattern looking for animals to count and observe. There are four sections of
the data sheet that should be filled out. The top should be filled out at the
beginning of the session. This includes weather and tide data, as well as observations
of litter. Use the tide table to determine the approximate tidal height at the
time of your survey. Weather report should include temperature, cloud cover,
fog and precipitation (rain or drizzle). Litter observations should be made
to estimate the amount of litter observed. The following scale can be used:
No observed litter: (1) 1-10 pieces: (2) 11-30 pieces: (3) 31-60 pieces: (4)
Oil and tar balls are observed: (5)
The visitor use survey will help to indicate the type of human activity at each beach and how this may impact the number of animals observed. Note the activity of the visitor and the number of visitors performing each activity. Note the number of dogs on the beach. Are their owners picking up the dog litter? Are the dogs on a leash?
The live animal count is the most exciting and the most difficult of the tasks. You must correctly identify every animal which is noted on the data sheet. One good bird field guide will be in the bag you check out for your survey. Additional field guides (mammals, invertebrates) may be checked out of the library. If you have some animal which you can not identify, write "unidentified bird (mammal)" in the species ID column. Count them. If the bird is definitely a gull, but you can not ID it to species, you may write "gull" in the species ID column. Note its age (juvenile or adult) in the notes column.
Keep a tally of each species as you walk the beach. When you have completed the survey, write in the total number of each species. The last column is for noting behavior observations or anything unusual that may happen on your survey.
The beached organism count is similar, only species identification may be more difficult due to decomposition. The same rules apply. Only write in the species code in you are sure of the identification. If not, you may write "unidentified bird (mammal)" in the species ID column. If a camera is available, you may photograph any beached bird or mammal. Note the frame number in the appropriate column. If you can determine the age (juvenile or adult) or sex of the animal, note that in the appropriate column. Notes should include the probable cause of death (if obvious), the presence of oil and the presence of research tags (write down the number and color of the tag).
A notebook will be kept with each pack which will be the field journal. Each time you do a survey, note any behavior observations or unusual occurrences, questions for Shari, questions you wish to research further later, etc. Each group is expected to contribute to the field journal on every survey.
Shari (738-4250) immediately.
Each pack should include:
one pair of binoculars (additional pairs may be checked out of the stockroom)
one bird field guide
one clipboard with data sheets/instructions/species code lists
You should bring:
extra jackets, including weatherproof outerwear
additional field guides to beach organisms or marine mammals
Data sheets are available from Shari Snitovsky.
Procedures and data sheets adapted from Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Beach Watch Program.
Check out some photos of animals found during this survey.
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