Cape Falcon Marine Reserve: Science

ODFW Science Monitoring at Cape Falcon Marine Reserve

The ODFW Marine Reserves Program uses a variety of research tools to monitor marine reserves. We tailor which tools we use at the Cape Falcon site based on the site’s unique characteristics. The reserve’s size, habitats, and depths – as well as what fishing activities used to take place here – all play into determining which tools we use.

The Cape Falcon Marine Reserve is dominated by soft bottom habitats. The site also includes some small, low-relief, rock patches in shallower waters that are isolated from any other rocky habitat in the nearby area. Prior to closure, there was crabbing in sandy habitats, and infrequent fishing for groundfish in rocky habitats, within what is now the reserve. These characteristics – including the relatively low fishing pressure on groundfish that previously occurred at the site – means we will likely not see changes as a direct result from marine reserve protections (i.e. no fishing) in the reserve compared to areas still open to fishing.

Monitoring Activities

We are using the following tools and sampling intervals to monitor the reserve at Cape Falcon based on the site’s unique characteristics.

Future research and monitoring activities are being explored for the soft sediment habitat areas within the reserve.


Sampling Approach: Due to the relatively low fishing pressure in the reserve prior to closure, our sampling approach is to survey a number of small rocky reefs that each experience different levels of fishing pressure. In this sampling approach, the rocky reefs in the reserve represent light fishing pressure. Patch reefs immediately to north and south of the reserve, and reefs closer to the port of Garibaldi, each represent higher levels of fishing pressure. We’ll look at change over time along this gradient of fishing pressures to explore how different levels of fishing influence rates of change in rocky reef marine communities.

Find out more About the Science.

cape-falcon_monitoring tools
Community Science

Get Involved: Community Science

We have much to learn about Oregon’s ocean and beaches. Community science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. Participation is fun and rewarding—join in and contribute to science!

What Community Science is Happening at Cape Falcon Marine Reserve?

There are numerous ways to get involved with the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve Program (CFMR) of NCLC. Here some of the different types of activities we do annually:

Sea Star Surveys

This is a new program for CFMR, which runs from spring to fall and is in partnership with MARINeSea Star Surveys monitor the health of sea star populations on the US West Coast after an initial sea star wasting event in 2013.

Volunteers are asked to sign up for at least three shifts of three hours each. Shifts occur one hour before and one hour after minus tides events. Volunteer surveyors should be interested in interacting with wildlife and detailed work as the program focuses on finding, measuring, and documenting sea stars' size and physical state. This project takes place in the intertidal zone of Falcon Cove Beach, which can be slippery and uneven.

Tidepool Ambassador Program

The Tidepool Ambassador Program (TAP) runs throughout the summer months, in partnership with Oregon State Parks, Oregon Marine Reserves, and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association.

TAP helps visitors understand tidepool etiquette and facilitates their observation of tidepool species through one-on-one or group interpretation. TAP volunteers should be interested in sustained and friendly engagement with visitors and working alongside wildlife. 

Volunteers are asked to sign up for at least two shifts that are between three to four hours in the morning (generally on the weekends). The minus tide series determines shifts during the summer months. This program takes place in the intertidal zone at Short Sand Beach, Oswald West State Park, within areas that are slippery and uneven.

Documenting Oregon's King Tides

Documenting Oregon's King Tides corresponds with the winter King Tides series in November, December, and January.

This is done in partnership with the Oregon King Tides Project, which documents the extent of exceptionally high tide events (King Tides) bringing attention to the effects of future climate conditions and sea-level rise.

Volunteers utilize a camera or smartphone to take photographs of predetermined photo categories and from specific locations within the reserve during King Tides events. Volunteers should be comfortable with inclement weather. No formal training is required. 

Coastal Bird Surveys and Interpretation Tabling

Our cormorant and black oystercatcher bird surveys run from spring to summer and partner with Portland Audubon. These projects assist researchers' understanding of coast bird population dynamics.

Volunteer duties include documenting bird and nest behaviors and communicating about these species to visitors. Volunteers should be comfortable looking through spotting scopes/binoculars, taking notes, and connecting with the public. Volunteer shifts are between one to two hours, and volunteers are asked to sign up for at least two shifts monitoring cormorants and multiple shifts for monitoring black oystercatchers.

This project takes place at Short Sand Beach and Devil's Cauldron, in Oswald West State Park. Training by Portland Audubon is required. Training dates listed by species of interest are located here

Learn more about Community Science at the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve site.

Stay Up to Date with ODFW

ODFW's goal is to clearly communicate and make accessible the work being carried out by the ODFW Marine Reserves Program. They currently have a variety of ways in which folks can track their monitoring progress.

Visit the Resource Library to see ODFW's latest infographics, monitoring plans, research reports, journal publications and more. Explore Photos & Videos or check out their Reserves News posts. You can also sign up for their eNewsletter emailed once a month to keep tabs on current research, find out about reports and upcoming events, dive into interesting ocean topics, and hear perspectives from scientists, fishermen, volunteers and community members.

The Community Science brochure is supported, in part, by a grant funded by Transient Lodging Tax dollars through Tillamook Coast Visitors Association.