Research Technical Report
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Establishing a Beach Montoring Program to Assess Natural and Anthropogenic Changes in Populations of Birds, Mammals, and Turtles in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Benson, S.R., A.P. DeVogealere, and J.T. Harvey (April 1999)
Report submitted to: California Urban Environmental Research and Education center. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Technical Publication No. 99-03. 21pp.
A beach monitoring pilot study, utilizing volunteers to sample selected sections of beach for dead marine birds and mammals, was established within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) in February 1997. The primary goal of the program, designated Beach COMBERS (Coastal Ocean Mammal / Bird Education and Research Surveys), is to obtain information on rates of stranding for all species of marine birds and mammals in Monterey Bay. Pairs of volunteers survey pre-defined beach segments within the study area during the first week of each month at low tide. A total of nine beaches within Monterey Bay and one in Carmel Bay (47.4 km total length) have been monitored monthly since May 1997. A separate weekly survey series was conducted to investigate the effects time of day and tidal cycle on deposition rates and to provide weekly information on persistence times of carcasses. Beachcast seabirds were the most abundant organisms encountered during any beach survey. Temporal variability of seabird deposition was high. During the eight months that were sampled in 1997, high seabird deposition was recorded in August and September. Common Murre (Uria aalge) and Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) were encountered with the greatest frequency, comprising 68 percent of all seabirds encountered. Counts of beachcast marine birds were greater during 1998. High seabird deposition was recorded from April through July. The diversity of seabird species encountered beachcast was greater during 1998. Common Murre and Sooty Shearwater comprised 46 percent of all beachcast seabirds. Residence time of beachcast seabirds varied by beach. Approximately 30 to 50 percent of new birds disappeared within the first week of being recorded. There was no detectable difference in deposition rates due to the effects of time of day or tidal cycle.