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.

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. It takes in several countires all around Europe, with some common base questions that are identical and can be pooled for an 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 ACASTUR.
  • Portugal  - Coordinated by GEOTA: Grupo de Estudos de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente.


Here you will find all relevant documents and links for the All Ireland Coastwatch Survey. The autumn survey 2022 is now over. We thank all who participated. The data is being analysed now with first results to be published on Dec 5th at a launch event in TCD. Please contact if you would like to know more or participate. If you have any questions, please email

Overall Coordination:  or  +353 (0) 868111684 

Find an area and plan your survey

Go to the map to choose a survey area. Zoom in and click the blue/white lines denoting a 500 meter survey unit; the ID code will pop up.

If not going out immediately you can book your survey sites using our online form.

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 the tides and plan your survey to start about 1 or 1.5 hours before low tide.

Download the Materials

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

Quick 5 step walkthrough of how it works

Survey Guide Notes

Read them before you go out to survey. You can also check the updated Nitrate test kit use note here.

Update in progress. Will be available shortly.

Extras – Coastwatch materials for use as any time of year:

Please, use our visible micro litter app!!

We also use other apps (see here).

If your survey unit is in a harbour, marina or includes a slipway/pier

A citizen science pilot pack to raise awareness about the importance of seaweed.

Data Return – submit the results of your work online

Please, submit data for each survey unit (500m) individually.

NEW!!!!! Send us your pictures/videos - You can also send them by email to

By submitting content you agree that it can be used by Coastwatch in publications.We may use your photos or videos in our reports, informative materials, website and social media, crediting you as the author (unless you specify otherwise).

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



The data collected by the hundreds of volunteers participating every year in the Coastwatch Survey, giving their time and energy for free, is published openly under a Creative Common license (CC BY-NC-SA).