30 October 2022

A Day In Morro Bay

Written by: Kathya Argueta

Throughout my internship with USFWS, I had the chance to join in on educational opportunities such as field trips. One of the field trips that I made with a fellow intern was to drive up from Ventura to Morro Bay. Once we got to Morro bay my coworker and I met with a fellow colleague name Mike Harris from CDFW. We were going to be doing a beach survey for the non-profit citizen science program BeachCOMBERS. Although I had already done a variety of surveys, the reason as to why this survey experience was by far one of the best was because Mike Harris took us to a beach that has some of the highest marine bird and mammal carcass rates. Through this field trip Mike Harris taught us how to identify bird and marine carcasses, which is very different from identifying alive marine birds and mammals. He taught us to look for a variety of context clues such has feather colors, bill and keel sizes, teeth shape and size on mammals, along with ears, flippers, and head sizes and shapes. Although it seemed straight forward, and something that I could have taught myself by reading a book, being able to do hands on work was far more educational. In addition, because my colleague and I had driven up to central California, we got to see some things that we would never down in southern California such as vultures flying along the coast, feeding on carcasses that were freshly washed up. In addition I got to see a shark egg case, and a baby Snowy Plover! Since there were so many carcasses washed up, we had a lot of opportunities to sit down and practice using the new identification skills that Mark had taught us to individually identify species. Finally, after a long day of surveying, Mark even shared with us his favorite secret spot to go see California Sea Otters, another species that we don’t commonly see in Ventura or San Diego.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location: Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office

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