Ranging in age from eight to over eighty, COASSTers in the lower 48 tend to be retired, but also encompass a diversity of jobs, from tribal biologists to teachers to artists. In Alaska, the age of our participants is a bit younger, perhaps reflecting the fact that hardly anybody retires to coastal Alaska! Instead, relatively more Alaskan COASSTers work for national parks, wildlife refuges, and tribal governments.

COASST participants do not have to have years of scientific education, nor do they need to be bird or marine debris experts. In fact, what unites COASSTers is a strong affinity for the coastal environment, the need to know more about the marine natural resources they live next to, and a desire to be part of the solution.

Julia Parrish teaching volunteers in Homer

Julia helps guide new volunteers in Homer through the basics.

After only one 6-hour training session, you can become a COASSTer, too. COASSTers sign a ‘contract’ pledging to survey their beach every month—an acknowledgment that COASST data are most valuable when regularly collected. And the COASST office pledges to put all of the data together, decipher the patterns across the entire COASST range, and give that information back out to COASSTers, and the communities, in the form of our annual report—COASST Reports—our e-newsletter, What's Washed In, and our website.

Bitten by the bug for beach combing and wondering about what’s happening to the local marine resources in your area? For more information about how to become a COASST participant, please see our Participate page.