Dow Lambert/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dow Lambert/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Marine Science Lecture Series on beach birds

  • Fri Dec 8th, 2017 9:41am
  • Life

Fledge your nest on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and enjoy a free dinner while learning about Rhinoceros auklets, one of the most common but peculiar-looking birds in the Salish Sea. A relative of the more colorful, clown-like tufted puffin, rhinoceros auklets also dig underground burrows and breed on remote islands devoid of mammalian predators. With a compact body, waterproof feathers, legs positioned closer to the tail, and relatively stubby fin-like wings, they are awkward on land but perfectly suited to “fly” underwater and can dive to over 200 feet to catch small schooling fish like herring.

During July of 2016, hundreds of rhinoceros auklets washed up dead on the beaches of the Olympic Peninsula. Such mass mortality was never seen before in this species and scientists, including Dr. Julia Parrish, investigated myriad reasons, from food availability, contagions, and toxic algal blooms to the warm-water “blob” that cooked the Pacific. Come learn about what caused this die off and how citizen scientist volunteers are helping to understand these events.

SeaDoc Society and YMCA Camp Orkila sponsor this special dinner and family night as part of their free Marine Science Lecture Series. The event will be hosted at YMCA Camp Orkila’s Larry Norman Lodge. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and the lecture and separate activities for children will start at 7 p.m.

Parrish (University of Washington) is the executive director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) whose trained volunteer beach walkers help scientists keep track of seabirds in five western states. COASST is the largest beached bird program in the world, amassing data over 17 years from nearly 70,000 finds and 3,000 participants, resulting in the largest collection of beached bird photographs in the world. While Parrish has never taken a single bird class, her tireless work with COASST for nearly two decades has been recognized formally at The White House.

The 2017-2018 Marine Science Lecture Series is designed to inspire the general public and to highlight the amazing fish and wildlife of our region. Lectures are free.

The lecture series is presented by program partners The SeaDoc Society and YMCA Camp Orkila. It has been made possible through generous sponsorship by The Averna Family (Deer Harbor Charters), Barbara Bentley, Barbara Brown, Emmanuel Episcopal, Audrey and Dean Stupke, Orcas Island Community Foundation and West Sound Marina. For more information, visit