Coastwatch Survey

The Coastwatch Survey is designed to give an overview of the state of the coast. It involves volunteers from all walks of life checking their chosen 500m stretch of coast (survey unit) once around low tide, and jotting observations down on the survey questionnaire while on the shore. This citizen science work can be augmented with water tests. Data is then collected and pooled to provide a snapshot of state in areas surveyed at that time – see examples from Ireland N and S below.

IN TRANSITION  – The Coastwatch survey was born in 1987 and has adapted over time with updates from paper maps to modern GIS and alignment to  EU water law like the MSFD, WFD, Waste and Nature law.  2015 is  a year in transition where new methods and materials are being tried in different countries.  However some common base questions will be identical and will be pooled for a European report.

Here are the links to the Coastwatch projects in different countries:

  • All Ireland – Northern Ireland and Rep. of Ireland – See materials and info below
  • Spain  – Coordinated nationally by Colectivo Ornitológico Cigüeña Negra
  • Portugal  – Coordinated by GEOTA: Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente


  • All Ireland Survey

Here you will find all relevant documents and links for the All Ireland Coastwatch Survey (The next survey will take place from Sept 15th to Oct 15th 2016). If you have any questions, please email or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

1. Find an area to survey

  • Coastwatch Map – Go to the map and choose a survey area. Zoom in and click the blue and white lines denoting a 500 meter survey unit and the ID code will show up.
  • Book your survey area. If not going out immediately you can book your survey sites using our online form

2. Download the Materials

  • Coastwatch Survey Questionnaire (with Extra Questions) – Use one for every survey unit (500 m)
  • Survey Guide Notes –  draft – Read them before you go out to survey
    Harbour Questionnaire + CITCLOPS –  If your survey unit is in a harbour, marina or includes a slipway/pier. EU project – Sea water transparency and colour survey (10 min) most suitable for those near deep water access (pier, boat, etc.)

3. Plan your Survey

  • List of regional coordinators – You can contact Coastwatch regional coordinator or TCD office to:

– get extra materials: Nitrate/nitrite test sticks, micro litter sample  containers
– get an area allocated, ask for training or any clarification

4. Data return

  •  PICTURES: Email us interesting pictures to (indicate survey site and if we are to attribute these to you or not)

Alternatively you can post the data to us Coastwatch, Civil Engineering, TCD, Dublin 2.


  • If you think you can recommend it, please ask 2 others to survey. Together we might reach 1,000 sites on the island of Ireland in one month. Here is a survey invite poster to pass on.
  • Dublin Coast Shell Poster
  • Shells are part of the fingerprint of your coastal area. Coastwatch is drafting regional seashell identification posters.
  • Download this Coastwatch Dublin SEASHELLS POSTER  to help you identify common species found all around Ireland and some rarer ones. A copy on your phone is handy when going for a walk.
  • If you found a seashell on the Dublin coast (city & county) which isn’t on the poster, please send the shell to Coastwatch or mail a good photo with location and any other detail and we will add your shell to the poster and acknowledge you. A final poster is planned for Christmas!
  • Dublin City Council has kindly printed hard copies of  this poster, is distributing them  and hosting a Coastwatch survey and seashell ID event this Friday 5th September on Bull Island.  Posters for other regions will follow if we get similar sponsor support.




Coastwatch Survey Results 2013 – All Ireland


Coastwatch Survey Units – All Ireland














Coastwatch Survey Report 2013 – All Irelnad


Coastwatch Survey Report 2012 – Ireland





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