Beach Watch, acknowledged for its outstanding achievements, trains citizen-scientists to survey and document the resources of the Sanctuaries. A long-term, volunteer beach monitoring program, the goals of Beach Watch are to help protect and understand our coastal resources by: * Creating a long-term data set of the bird and mammal resources for each beach from Bodega Head to Point Ano Nuevo * Assisting the Sanctuary in early detection of natural or human-caused disturbances, such as oil spills * Developing a network of local stewards that document and exchange information on the biological and physical changes a particular beach may undergo throughout the various seasons over several years
Since the Fall of 1993 Beach Watch volunteers have conducted bi-monthly surveys of over 150 miles of coastal beaches from Point Ano Nuevo in San Mateo County north to Bodega Head in Sonoma County.
* More than 100 volunteers from all walks of life participate in the Beach Watch program with an annual retention rate of 85%.
* In 2000, Beach Watch volunteers donated 12,000 hours to the program for an equivalent value of $204,000
* Beach Watch surveyors conduct oil spill sampling and tar ball retrieval to assist the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response to detect and analyze the source of oil on coastal beaches. Surveyors with special training participated in a multi-agency response to oil spills in the San Francisco Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore and along the San Mateo coast.
* Several specimens of rare and endangered wildlife have been discovered and documented by Beach Watch volunteers, including a rare Cuvier's beaked whale, a species little known to the scientific community.
* The evidence gathered by Beach Watch volunteers helps the Federal government document the damage to wildlife and habitat from oil spills. In 1996, this resulted in a $7.7 million settlement from a spill within the San Francisco Bay and Gulf of the Farallones. In 1998, this resulted in a $9.4 million settlement from an oil spill along the Central California Coast.
The public now has access to sixteen years of biological data from 41 Northern California beaches through the Beach Watch online query system. The online query system allows public access to data on live birds and marine mammals and dead vertebrates. Users can choose different filters and groupings to view the data; for example, the data can be queried for specific species, by individual beaches, or for a particular date range. The data are summarized and can also be displayed in graph form.