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Press Releases

June 22, 2005

Mary Jane Schramm, Media Specialist
Gulf of the Farallones NMS
(415) 561-6622, Ext. 205


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is calling for volunteers for its Beach Watch monitoring program. Beach Watch is a long-term research project of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and is coordinated by the non-profit Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association.

"Now in its 12th year, Beach Watch provides Farallones sanctuary management with information needed to protect coastal waters, from Point Año Nuevo in San Mateo County to Bodega Head in Sonoma County," said Maria Brown, manager of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. "This is an opportunity for specially-trained 'citizen scientists' to take an active role in environmental stewardship and conservation."

Volunteers receive 70 hours of free classroom and field training in marine mammal and seabird identification skills, and data collection techniques. Some wildlife identification skills are desirable. Volunteers learn how to retrieve evidence of oil spills, and in beach survey techniques. Data provides insights into environmental threats and marine mammal and seabird stranding patterns, to be compared with existing data to chart trends in ocean health and coastal conditions.

Over the years, Beach Watch surveyors have participated in multi-agency responses to oil spills in the San Francisco Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore and along the San Mateo coast. Evidence gathered by Beach Watch volunteers helps the government document damage to wildlife and habitat from oil spills. In 1998, this resulted in a $9.4 million settlement from an oil spill along the Central California Coast. Beach Watch volunteers are often the first detectors of natural wildlife mortality events, such as seabird die-offs during El Niño events. Several valuable specimens of rare and endangered wildlife have been discovered and documented by Beach Watch volunteers, including a pigmy sperm whale, a species little known to the scientific community.

Orientations will begin in late July. Volunteers must be 18 or older and commit to conducting monthly surveys for a one-year minimum. Space is limited, and reservations are required.


  • Sat. July 30, at the Bay Model Visitor Center,10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
  • Tues., Aug 2, at the Pt. Montara Lighthouse, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Thurs., Aug 4, Farallones sanctuary headquarters, Bldg. 991, Presidio of San Francisco, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Sat. Aug 6., Farallones sanctuary headquarters, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
Training sessions will be conducted from September through October. For details, contact Shannon Lyday at (415) 561-6625 x 302 or by e-mail at

The NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries seeks to increase the public awareness of America's maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary office manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The NOAA National Ocean Service manages the sanctuary office and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand atmospheric and climate variability and to manage wisely our nation's coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:
NOAA National Ocean Service:
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Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary:
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association:

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