Volunteer Spotlight: Seashore Citizen Science



Seashore citizen science for Duke of Edinburgh award

Anneliese has been volunteering her time with the Marine conservation Society as one of their sea champions and through this tole has taken part in three citizen science projects. These citizen science projects are a great way to support the conservation of the marine environment and they help us to unserstand some of the impacts of climate change. 

She tells us more about what she has been getting up to on our coastlines...

"I am a second year Environmental Science student studying at The University of Plymouth. I am currently undertaking my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and a requirement for this is to complete 18 months of volunteering for a minimum of an hour a week. My university was offering a volunteering fair where I met Jules Agate (Sea Champions Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager). Jules explained to me what volunteering positions were available for me to help with on a long-term scale. That’s when I heard about citizen science projects ‘The Big Seaweed Search’, ‘Marine Invaders’ and ‘CrabWatch’. The Big Seaweed Search involves undertaking shore surveys to record different types of seaweeds to help scientific research. These seaweeds range from species such as Serrated Wrack, Channelled Wrack and Coral Weed (just a few examples). 

 Identification guides for all species, as well as recording forms are all available online at http://bigseaweedsearch.org/. You also input your collected data and photos into an online database via the link too. Its super-simple once you know what you’re doing and a great excuse to get outside! There are some days of course when its unsafe to venture too close to the sea, meaning a lay day or two may be required, if there are health and safety risks. Obviously, tides can also affect the timings of your searches if your destination involves a rocky shore. That’s where the Marine Biological Association project, ‘CrabWatch’ comes in!

CrabWatch is a hunt for different species of crabs that can be surveyed at a rocky shore, off a jetty etc. This means that when the tide is too high to survey a rocky shore, CrabWatch can be adapted when the tide is high by crabbing from a pier or a harbour wall. Again, all ID guides and recording sheets are available here: www.mba.ac.uk/crabwatch/.

Additionally, ‘Marine Invaders’ is another scheme developed through the Capturing Our Coast partnership involving the Marine Conservation Society and Marine Biological Association, amongst others. Non-native species are searched for and assessed such as the Pacific Oyster compared to the European Oyster. The same method is used where-by you visit the rocky shore or sea wall etc with your ID guide and look out for the species on the recording form: www.mba.ac.uk/marineinvaders/.

All three of the above are super exciting and fun to get involved in. Not only do you help out a great cause by being a citizen scientist, but you also get to develop an array of skills ranging from species identification through to even noticing trends from shore to shore yourself (once you’ve had a go a few times). I would definitely recommend getting in touch with the Marine Conservation Society (who are super friendly and helpful) to get all the advice you need to become an MCS Sea Champion and citizen scientist on the shore!"