Volunteer opportunities in Oregon's marine reserves and protected areas

The organizations in the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership have many opportunities to volunteer. The following are a few examples, with links to organization websites to learn about how you can get involved.

Audubon Society of Portland Volunteer Opportunities

marbeled murrelet

                 Marbeled murrelet. Photo credit: Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO

Marbled Murrelet training & Survey: This annual event in Yachats, Ore., starts with an evening program about Marbled Murrelet biology and conservation, followed by a predawn on-the-ground survey the next morning! This is a unique opportunity to learn from top Murrelet researchers in the state, to witness Murrelets in flight during nest exchange, and to see Murrelets foraging in nearshore waters. Generally takes place in July.  For more information visit:  http://audubonportland.org/issues/species/murrelet/survey

pigeon guillemot

               Pigeon guillemot. Photo credit: Ron LeValley

Seabird monitoring at Cape Perpetua and Cape Falcon: Help Portland Audubon monitor seabird nesting colonies adjacent to the Cape Perpetua and Cape Falcon Marine Reserve/Protected Areas to track the nesting success of seabirds including Pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants as well as assess Rhinoceros Auklet, Pigeon Guillemot usage of Sea Lion Caves.  We are partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sea Lion Caves, Friends of Cape Falcon, Haystack Rock Awareness Program, and others on this project. Monitoring tasks include regular visits to seabird colonies, using a scope to observe nesting activity, and ultimately estimating the percentage of nests that successfully hatch young. This project takes place late May through early August.  Contact Joe Liebezeit (jliebezeit@audubonportland.org) for more information.
Cape Perpetua Seabird monitoring flyer
Cape Falcon Seabird monitoring flyer
Check out the 2015 Annual Report for this project here!
Check out the sampling protocols we use to monitor seabirds here:
Cormorant reproductive success
Pigeon Guillemot and Rhinoceros Auklet counts


Black oystercatcher. Photo credit: Molly Sultany.

Black Oystercatcher Monitoring
Audubon Society of Portland is monitoring Black Oystercatchers on the coast to help better understand this species’ use of rocky intertidal habitats in/near the recently designated network of Oregon’s marine reserves/protected areas. We are partnering on this project with the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, building on their long-term annual monitoring efforts for this unique species of conservation concern.  Contact Joe Liebezeit (jliebezeit@audubonportland.org) for more information.
Check out the 2015 Annual Report for this project here.
Check out the sampling protocols we use to monitor oystercatchers:
Abundance survey
Nest monitor survey


Cape Perpetua BioBlitz 2016
Participate in the 2016 Cape Perpetua BioBlitz and help contribute baseline information on species presence in the Cape Perpetua area along Oregon’s central coast.  On your next walk in the coastal forest or on the coast in the Cape Perpetua area, report the species you see using iNaturalist (http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/the-cape-perpetua-bioblitz-series-2016). It’s fun and easy!  Individual BioBlitz events are being scheduled throughout the summer/fall of 2016, but volunteers are encouraged to visit the region and contribute observations during the entire period of the project. This project is a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Parks and Recreation, PISCO, Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership and Audubon Society of Portland. Through your participation, you will help create a set of historical data from which future scientific endeavors can prosper.
The Cape Perpetua BioBiltz 2016 flyer is available here. To find out more, contact Ian Throckmorton (CPBioBlitz@Gmail.com).


Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition Volunteer Opportunities


Mile 281, Tillamook County, Agate Beach. Photo credit: CoastWatch

Adopt a CoastWatch mile: CoastWatch, a citizen monitoring program, engages Oregonians in personal stewardship over their shoreline. Volunteers adopt mile-long segments of Oregon's coast, keeping watch for natural changes and human-induced impacts, reporting on their observations, and sounding the alarm about threats and concerns. CoastWatch is founded on individual vigilance and responsibility for one portion of the ocean shore. But the program also links hundreds of 'mile adopters' in a coastwide network of concerned citizens taking action to conserve shoreline resources. CoastWatchers serve as an early warning system not only for the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, but also for neighbors along their miles, local government, regulatory agencies and other conservation groups. Find out more at Oregon Shores CoastWatch.

oregon shores logostudent marine debris monitoring team

Student marine debris monitoring team. Photo credit: Fawn Custer.

Volunteer for an Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition citizen science project:

  • The beached bird survey, in which CoastWatch partners with COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, based at the University of Washington). 
  • Marine debris monitoring, using a protocol developed by NOAA. 
  • The sea star wasting syndrome survey.
  • Marine mammal stranding, in cooperation with Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. This work produces data points for the stranding network. 
  • "Beached marine critters" survey, using a protocol that provides an online means of recording observations of stranded sharks, squid, sea turtles and two species of fish. 
  • Invasive species: At present, this primarily involves species carried on tsunami debris, training volunteers in what to look for, how to handle it, and how to report it to scientists at the HMSC.

CoastWatch will provide training for these various citizen science surveys during the fall and winter. To volunteer or for more information, contact Fawn Custer, CoastWatch’s volunteer coordinator, (541) 270-0027, fawn@oregonshores.org; or visit http://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.php5.

oregon king tides

King Tide Sea Level Documentation - Volunteers photographically document the reach of the year's highest tides (known as "king tides" in Australia, where this international project began). The goal, in addition to identifying current threats to both natural habitat and human infrastructure, is to envision the "new normal" as what are now unusually high tides become the ordinary water level with sea level rise. This is a coastwide project, but we will begin concentrating special effort on the marine reserve areas, documenting how their intertidal margins in particular are likely to be affected in coming decades.

Surfrider Volunteer Opportunities

redfish rocks students

Redfish Rocks MR - Surfrider Foundation volunteers partners with Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve Community Team on a number of citizen science monitoring efforts from water quality and shoreline monitoring to intertidal clam surveys. These activities take place throughout the year on a monthly basis, often engaging students from the local school district and community volunteers in the Port Orford area. Learn more about these programs and how to get involved by contacting oregon@surfrider.org or visit the Community Team's citizen science page.
team transect at Cape Perpetua Cape Perpetua MR - Surfrider Foundation’s Siuslaw Chapter engages volunteers in water quality monitoring through their local Blue Water Task Force program as well as monthly monitoring of marine debris through NOAA’s shoreline monitoring program. Volunteers sample water quality monthly within the marine reserve for enterococcus bacteria, a recreational and ecological health indicator, using an EPA-certified method. See an interactive map of where volunteers test, download data or learn more at the link above or contact oregon@surfrider.org. For a full listing of Siuslaw Chapter programs and descriptions, including beach and highway cleanups in the reserve area, visit: http://siuslaw.surfrider.org/programs/.
blue water task force Otter Rock and Cascade Head MR - Surfrider Foundation’s Newport Chapter runs two Blue Water Task Force Programs, sampling sites within both the Otter Rock and Cascade Head Marine Reserves. Volunteers sample water quality weekly in some areas and monthly within the marine reserves for enterococcus bacteria, a recreational and ecological health indicator, using an EPA-certified method. See an interactive map of where volunteers test, download data or learn more at the link above or contact oregon@surfrider.org. For a full listing of Newport Chapter programs and descriptions, including beach and highway cleanups in the reserve area, visit: http://newport.surfrider.org/programs/.

Coast Range Association Volunteer Opportunities
land-sea connection

Volunteer through the Coast Range Association (CRA) to support the Cascade Head and Cape Falcon marine reserves. We work with the Friends of Cascade Head and the Friends of Cape Falcon, two community groups working to implement their respective marine reserves. Whether you live inland or on the coast, there are opportunities to help with coastal field trips and educational events.


Do you have an interest in the land-sea connection? We are looking for citizens with estuary knowledge related to coastal marine reserves. Call the CRA's coastal program manager Jim Carlson at (541) 801-5538 to find out how you can become involved.

The Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership is a fiscally sponsored project of The Ocean Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.