A key component of the Lingocd Nest Census is the ability to monitor the development of individual egg masses over the nesting season.
The artificial nature of the EUWP and its features greatly facilitate the Census by providing a set of geographic references that allow the location of nest sites and egg masses to be thoroghly documented thus allowing the nest sites and egg masses to be observed repeatly over the nesting season. Named rope trails running both north to south and east to west have been laid out throughout the park dividing the park into rectangles. Many of the features are unique in shape and size and many have been named. The named trails and features are used in identifying the location of nest sites. The pipes, wires, ropes and other materials incorperated into the artifical features make it relatively easy to place identification tags close to nest sites. Placement of identification tags in a natural environment would be very difficult if not impossible due to a lack of usable attachement points.
The Lingcod Census uses two types of nest identification tags (ID Tags) - Annual Census ID Tags and Permanent Nest Site ID Markers.
Annual Census ID Tags
The Annual Census ID Tags are critical to the census effort. They ensure that nests are not double-counted and allow the Census to track individual egg masses over time. Each tag is marked with a nest site ID number and the Census season. The Annual Census ID Tags are randomly assigned to nest sites as the sites are discovered.
Here’s what a current tag looks like. You often see a group of tags from several years indicating a prime nest location. Looks a bit like an anemone with numbers, eh?
Divers, please do not remove any of the Census ID tags. The old tags help identify key nesting sites and help link current observations to those made in past nesting seasons.
The nest tags have evolved over time as various materials, shapes and colors were tested. One of the initial types of tags used was a rock painted green with the ID number painted on it. These tags didn’t work out because the guard fish didn't like the green rocks and turned the rocks over thus hiding the tag numbers. Another problem was that divers would carry the rocks off as souvenirs.
Here’s a guard fish laying nestled against the tags. We think the guard fish confuse the tags with small plumose anemones. For whatever reason, the guard fish will tolerate small white tags.