Successful Launch of Field Processing Level 2 Training

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What is Field Processing?

• The primary purpose of Field Processing is to safely collect photographic, natural history and external petroleum sample evidence prior to movement of NOAA species (pinnipeds, cetaceans, sea turtles) carcasses from initial stranding sites.
• While the remains of small animals such as seabirds can be placed in containers that prevent possible cross contamination during transport, this is difficult to achieve with large carcasses such as those from sea lions or dolphins. Therefore it is necessary to collect baseline samples before the carcass is moved.
• Field Processing team members are trained to obtain evidence at the site of the stranding and to maintain an intact Chain of Custody of evidence between collection of the carcass and final examination at a Primary Processing Facility where a more complete post-mortem evaluation is performed.
• The ultimate objectives are to collect dead oiled wildlife to reduce environmental contamination, prevent secondary exposure of scavengers from oil ingestion, to support post-mortem diagnostic testing that can inform care of live oil affected animals and to support natural resource damage assessment.

What happens during a FP training?

Last Sunday, twenty-four highly talented and motivated instructors and BeachWatch volunteers launched the first ever OWCN Level 2 Training for Field Processing of NOAA Species. The 6-hour training was graciously hosted by the California Academy of Sciences.

The first part consisted of a lecture that described the steps required to collect evidence and maintain an intact Chain of Custody. This was followed by a hands-on wetlab. Participants started by practicing photographing and obtaining petroleum sample evidence from a “model” carcass (inflatable dolphin). Next students practiced filling out the associated paperwork including federal Chain of Custody forms.

In the afternoon a short lecture covered methods to safely move large and heavy carcasses from the beach to a vehicle. This was followed by demonstrations on safe lifting techniques, use of various types of transport equipment and proper loading of vehicles.

How can I get involved?

Completion of Field Processing (FP) Level 2 training is required for all people that will be working on a FP team during oil spills and for those assigned to FP management level positions. Pre-requisites necessary to be eligible to register for a FP Level 2 training include:
• Association with an OWCN Member Organization (and approval from that organization) or a local, state or federal agency
• Significant experience collecting natural history data from NOAA species (pinnipeds, cetacea, sea turtles) and recording scientific data
• Physically fit. Able to work long hours, including weekends, and outdoors, even in inclement weather. Able to lift at least 30 pounds.
• Registered in the OWCN Better Impact personnel database.
• Completion of the OWCN “Core” webinar series (N=4).
• Completion of ICS 100 training and successful upload of certificate to Better Impact.
• Completion of 24 hour HAZWOPER training or 8 hour refresher within last 12 months and successful upload of current certificate to Better Impact.
• Completion of OWCN Field Processing Level 1 webinar.

If you are interested in becoming a Field Processing responder and you belong to a Member Organization or Affiliated Agency, please contact Nancy Anderson for further information (

Many thanks!

This training was the culmination of a collaborative effort between the National Marine Fisheries Service / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association / BeachWatch, the California Academy of Sciences, Point Blue Conservation Science and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

Funding for the training was provided by a Prescott Grant awarded to Moe Flannery from the California Academy of Sciences and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. This training would not have been possible without the expertise and contributions from the following people: Moe Flannery, Dru Devlin, Kirsten Lindquist, Sue Pemberton, Diana Humple, Jan Roletto, Sarah Wilkin, Mike Ziccardi, Kyra Mills-Parker, Tim Williamson


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