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Su|0AY, 0CT0BER 2/, 2OIJ ¦ SERVl|C SA| lRA|ClSC0, AlAVE0A, VARl|, SA| VATE0 A|0 SA|TA ClARA C0u|TlES ¦ SlEXAVl|ER.C0V
0a I|e rebeäa1
Post injury, lee aims
to e·ce| tor \arriors
S.l. 0pera debut ot
Beach \atch vo|unteers çather
crucia| into about Bay Area shore|ines,
and even oi| spi||s Pk6£5 4-5
Th£ 5kk F8kk6l 560 £IkMl k£8 · SF E X ANl hER. C0N · SUh0AY, 0CT08ER 27, 20¡ 3 4 AZ
Beach Vatch tolunteers surtey Bay Area beaches,
compiling tast amount of data for many uses
By Miko Billings
S.F. Examiner Staff Vriter
odoo Boach was noarly dosortod whon 1an Rolotto strodo
out onto tho sand. It was a Tuosday in 8optombor, and an
unsoasonal woathor pattorn had brought gray clouds th at
blondod in along tho horizon with a soa churnod by a stiff
broozo off tho Iacifc Ocoan.
On such a day, many might chooso an indoor cafo ovor outdoor rocro-
ation, but Rolotto spont tho noxt fow hours zigzagging across tho boach
botwoon tho pobblo-strown high-tido lino and a lagoon, stopping occa-
sionally to poor farthor down tho boach through a pair of binoculars.
P|ec|a¿ Ie¿eI|er z b|¿ p|cIäre e|
Jan Ro|etto, top, m|dd|e and far r|ght, exam|nes Rodeo 8each for the 8each watch program. 8each watch vo|unteer Nary Cant|n|, top far r|ght, and fr|end 0on harr|son, far |eft and top far r|ght, survey 0cean 8each.
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About halfway down tho boach,
Rolotto haltod aftor scanning tho whito-
cappod wator, jotting down ªBNDO"
throo timos in hor notobook. 8ho spot-
tod a pod of bottlonoso dolphins, which
aro fairly raro this far north.
Lator, aftor a comploto survoy of
tho boach, Rolotto would upload all
of hor four-lottor codos - all of which
stand for an animal - and othor infor-
mation sho had gathorod.
That information would thon bo
fod into a largo databaso that now
contains 2u yoars of information
gathorod by a small staff and
an army of voluntoors. Tho
projoct, callod Boach Watch,
has amassod ono of tho largost
pools of data about any coast-
lino sinco starting in Octobor
I998. Tho information is usod by sci-
ontists and policymakors in tho aroa
- and ovon in a woll-known logal fght
ovor a largo oil spill in 8an Irancisco
Rolotto works for tho National
Ocoanic and Atmosphoric Adminis-
tration as tho rosoarch coordinator
at tho Culf of tho Iarallonos National
Marino 8anctuary. Tho fodoral agoncy
administors tho marino sanctuary
that starts in tho wators wost of 8an
Irancisco and strotchos north along
On tho day Rolotto was at Rodoo
Boach, a small strotch nostlod in tho
Marin Hoadlands just north of 8an
Irancisco, sho was taking part in tho
Boach Watch program.
Tho basic promiso of tho program
is fairly simplo. Thoro aro two pooplo
assignod to boachos that strotch from
Ano Nuovo 8tato Boach at tho south
ond of 8an Matoo County north to
Bodoga Hoad in Marin County.
Tho voluntoors staggor thoir
schodulos so that survoys aro
complotod ovory two wooks.
Tho voluntoors - typi-
cally armod with binoculars,
spocializod forms and digital
camoras - documont many aspocts
of tho boachos, including ovorall con-
ditions and visitor tronds, and count
birds and mammals, doad or alivo.
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Walking around on a boach and tak-
ing notos about animals may soom
simplo, but tho dotails of tho program
mako tho task complox. To proporly
comb an aroa, voluntoors must zigzag
botwoon tho high-tido lino and inland
sido, scanning tho sky, sand and wator
for vortobratos that aro alivo whilo also
soarching for doad animals, which can
bo camoußagod by sand or hiddon
undor marino dobris. All tho whilo,
thoy aro also continually looking for
tar balls, which can bo just tiny dots
of oil amid milos of shorolino.
To proparo for tho task of volun-
tooring in tho Boach Watch program,
pooplo must frst tako 8u hours of
training and thon havo yoarly rofrosh-
ors, according to Maria Brown, tho
suporintondont of tho marino sanctu-
ary. Tho classos includo such topics
as idontifying animals and how to
proporly colloct oil samplos from a
boach in a way that can prosorvo tho
intogrity of tho ovidonco up to tho
standards noodod for a logal caso.
kFT£8 Th£ 60560 8ü5kk 5PlLL
Having data that strotch back 2u
yoars allows policymakors and
rosoarchors to undorstand tho normal
conditions of tho shorolino that Boach
Watch covors. That basolino includos
how much oil shows up naturally on
aroa boachos, according to Brown.
Aftor tho Cosco Busan sidoswipod
tho Bay Bridgo in Novombor 2uu7,
moro than ò8,uuu gallons of oil spillod
into 8an Irancisco Bay. 8omo of that
oil was carriod undor tho Coldon Cato
Bridgo and ondod up on aroa boachos.
Ono disputo that aroso was how
much of tho oil found on Bay Aroa
boachos actually camo from tho
Cosco Busan, Brown said. Tho spo-
cially trainod Boach Watch voluntoors
woro ablo to colloct samplos in a way
that allowod sciontists to match oil
found on tho shoro with that spillod
by tho Cosco Busan. Tho oil must bo
pickod up and storod without ovor
touching any othor plastic so as to
Tho colloctions, matchod with
information about how much oil
would typically bo found on a boach,
holpod map tho sproad of tho tank-
or's oil, which lod to a largor ponalty
against tho shipping company for
ªThoy said tho boachos woro provi-
ously oilod," Brown said of tho shipping
company. But tho data from Boach
Watch holpod provo othorwiso.
T£0l0ü5, 8üT £kJ0¥k8L£
Tho Boach Watch data may holp in
futuro oil spill casos - or in onviron-
montal incidonts, such as whon it was
usod to solvo a massivo gull dio-off in
8an Matoo County in 2uu8 that was
ovontually linkod to an opon-air rofuso
station - but colloction is slow and
mundano, though thoroughly onjoyod
by tho voluntoors.
About a wook aftor Rolotto was at
Rodoo Boach, voluntoor Mary Cantini
was at Ocoan Boach noar 8loat Bou-
lovard with hor friond Don Harrison,
who was along to holp count animals.
8ho startod tho morning with what is
callod a ªboach proflo," a picturo from
CE|TER, RlClT. VllE l00ZVl|/TlE S.l. EXAVl|ER
L0CAL hEwS F0R SAh FRAhClSC0
SUh0AY, 0CT08ER 27, 20¡ 3 · SF E X ANl hER. C0N · Th£ 5kk F8kk6l 560 £IkMl k£8 5 AZ
6uardIn¿ the coastIInes
Eter, |Wo Wee|s, Beac| ha|c| to|u¤|eers |ead
ou| |o oeac|es across ||e Ba, Area.
!||s |s W|a| ||e, docu¤e¤|.
L|ve and dead w||d||fe
0emograph|cs of beached w||d||fe
0||ed dead and ||ve w||d||fe
Apparent cause of death
Re|at|ve abundance of beach wrack (a|gae)
V|s|tor·use patterns and v|o|at|ons
8each eros|on and depos|t|on trends
(¨beach prof|e" photographs)
Status of streams and |agoons
Tar ba||s, to ass|st the Ca||forn|a 0ffce of
Sp||| Prevent|on and Response |n detect|ng
the source of o|| on coasta| beaches
8anded and tagged an|ma|s and recovery of
bands and tags from dead carcasses
State of decompos|t|on for base||ne and
emergency response surveys
Source. Beach Vatch 20I2 manual
tho samo vantago point ovory visit.
ªIt's a wondorful way to spond a
morning," Cantini said of tho fogloss
Irom thoro, sho and Harrison
walkod north from 8loat Boulovard,
counting tho livo birds and noting
what pooplo woro using tho boach for
that morning - mostly surfng and
Cantini talkod about tho doad
animals sho has found on tho boach
- a raro strippod dolphin, a raccoon
- but stoppod whon sho camo upon
a doad bird.
ªIt is kind of strango to soo doad
things and got oxcitod about it," sho said,
noting that such momonts aro tho clos-
ost sho will ovor got to tho animals.
Whon tho voluntoors fnd a doad
vortobrato, thoy tako a photo to docu-
mont tho animal and location - tho
camoras havo CI8 dovicos - and as
much information about tho spocios
as possiblo. Ior birds, tho voluntoors
clip off tho onds of tho wings and foot
of birds, which act as markors to
avoid doublo counting in tho futuro.
Onco tho documontation is comploto
- all doad animal picturos aro lator
doublo-chockod by a staff mombor for
idontifcation purposos - tho volun-
toors movo on in thoir soarch.
Ior Cantini, that soarch involvod
a long walk up tho boach from 8loat
Boulovard to Lincoln Way, which is
about 2 milos.
ªI lovo this boach," Cantini said.
ªAt frst I didn't want to tako it [tho
assignmont| bocauso it is in Tho City
and thoro is a lot of trash. I lovo it
now, thoro aro so many birds."
That lovo for tho boach and tho ani-
mals may bo what brings Cantini and
tho moro than Iuu voluntoors back.
Tho Boach Watch program has an
improssivo rotontion rato for volun-
toors - 8ò porcont oach yoar - who
assist tho handful of paid staff.
Tho work of voluntoors, which is
backod by funding from tho nonproft
Iarallonos Marino 8anctuary Asso-
ciation, allows for tho vast amounts
of information to bo gathorod. Othor
programs in California and in tho
northwost documont oithor tho con-
ditions of tho boachos or track doad
animals. But Boach Watch doos both,
making it an intornational modol.
Tho information is handod ovor to
fodoral and stato docision-making bod-
ios, including tho Coldon Cato National
Rocroation Aroa and California 8tato
Iarks, Brown said. Thoso agoncios
can uso it for small programs, such as
protocting snowy plovor nosting
aroas, or for longor-torm planning liko
proparing for rising soa lovols.
ªTho longor wo havo tho data, tho
moro valuo wo fnd in it," Brown said.
8ho notod that tho program alroady
has had a markod impact on tho coast-
lino, noting that tho aroa's boachos
woro among tho dirtiost in tho world
whon Boatch Watch startod.
ªNow wo havo somo of tho cloanost
in tho world," sho said.
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