UPDATE: Beach Watchers will become an independent non-profit organization effective January 1, 2016. Their new name is Sound Water Stewards of Island County.
Island County Beach Watchers are trained volunteers dedicated to protecting and preserving the marine environment of Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea through citizen science/research, education, outreach and stewardship. Beach Watchers is a program of Washington State University Extension, connecting the resources of the University with the unique marine-focused needs and opportunities of local communities.
As Beach Watchers enters its 25th year, more than 500 local residents have completed training and dedicate thousands of hours annually to enhance marine awareness, research and stewardship in Island County.
While Beach Watchers spans all of Island County – this article highlights Whidbey Island activities (Camano Island BW’s are associated with the Snohomish-Camano ECONet). We work both independently and in collaboration with many other organizations.
- Beach Watcher led activities
- Coupeville Wharf – education and environmental displays
- Crabber education
- Digging for Dinner – teaching others to clam
- Flora/fauna surveys (for 15 years) of the intertidal zone at more than 30 beaches – the results are now being used by UW researchers. Try your hand at the EZ-ID game
- Monofilament fishing line recycling
- Plastics surveying and education
- Sound Waters – a one-day university for all – on all things Puget Sound – held on the first Saturday in February – we expect over 500 people to join us on February 7th at South Whidbey High School for our 20th year. No prior knowledge is required to attend – just an interest in learning about and taking care of this amazing place that we call home.
- Working with Whidbey Econet Members
- Deception Pass State Park – tidepool docents
- Island County Marine Resources Committee – eel grass monitoring, pigeon guillemot study, seining
- Island County Shore Stewards – sharing knowledge, education, best practices for shoreline living
- Orca Network – docents at the Langley Whale Center
- Whidbey Audubon – Christmas bird count
- Whidbey EcoNet – website
- Whidbey Watershed Stewards – teaching at the outdoor classroom, wetlands restoration, smolt counts
- WSU Waste Wise – reduce / reuse / recycle!
- Working with other Puget Sound organizations
- COASST – monitoring beaches to collect seabird data for marine conservation
- Marine Mammal Stranding Network – data collection on’stranded’ mammals, necropsies
- WA State Parks – interpretive talks at Admiralty Head Lighthouse and Fort Casey
Beach Watchers training is an exceptional opportunity to receive more than 100 hours of university level instruction from experts in diverse fields. The training is a mix of indoor instruction, guided field trips, and learning-while-doing on summer projects. Class topics include watersheds & groundwater, marine biology & oceanography, salmon & near shore habitats, climate change, forestry, waste reduction, recycling, sustainable living, native plants & animals, intertidal beach monitoring, coastal geology, and more.
Each graduate is expected to give back 100 volunteer hours – deciding the particular ways they want to be involved. On average, each graduate contributes over 500 hours back to the local community and has fun while doing so!
If you are interested in becoming a Beach Watcher – applications for the 2015 training must be postmarked by Feb 20. See beachwatchers.wsu.edu/island/about/training.