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. 2016 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.


  • All Ireland - Northern Ireland and Rep. of Ireland - See materials and info below (from Sept 15th to Oct 15th).
  • SW of England - Takes place at the same time as the All Ireland Survey (from Sept 15th to Oct 15th).
  • Spain  - Coordinated nationally by Colectivo Ornitológico Cigüeña Negra
  • Portugal  - Coordinated by GEOTA: Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente
  • Malta - Update in progress
  • Romania - Update in progress
  • Germany - Update in progress


Here you will find all relevant documents and links for the All Ireland Coastwatch Survey. The survey takes place from Sept 15th to Oct 15th (SURVEY PERIOD EXTENDED TO OCT 22nd). If you have any questions, please email or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Overall Coordination:  or  +353 (0) 868111684   ··  Northern Ireland:  or  +44 7739 700793

1. Find an area and plan your 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.


Regional Coordinators

You can contact your Coastwatch Regional Coordinator or TCD office to (1) get an area allocated or ask for training (2) get extra materials (Nitrate/nitrite test sticks, etc.)



Check for low tide at plan your survey to start about 1 or 1.5 hours before low tide.

2. Download the Materials

Coastwatch Survey Questionnaire

(with Extra Questions) - Use one for every survey unit (500 m)


Survey Guide Notes

Read them before you go out to survey

While you are out on survey you might also want to do some extra things:
3. Data Return

Seaweed Questionnaire – Input Form


Email pictures to

Alternatively you can post your questionnaires and photos (CD) to Civil & Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Rep. of Ireland