Join the Coastwatch citizen scientist autumn shore survey 2022 for the island of Ireland to make this a bumper year.
The annual survey started in 1987 with the Irish Times as a pull out survey page is now largely on line with easy access GIS map to choose sites. It runs from Sept 15th to Oct 15th.
Volunteers zig zag their chosen 500m of shore around low tide to record and report their findings from erosion to stream water quality using test kits, key animals and plants to waste and litter. Micro litter can be recorded using a Coastwatch developed app. The information is then either inputted on computer or posted to Coastwatch and the first result high and low lights will be presented in early December in TCD. Training is provided for new volunteers and regional coordinators are planning joint survey events to cover some areas really well.
While the survey form does not change much so there are long time series of data, there are priority issues and areas:
Coastwatchers are asked to look out for dead birds and provide a count as in previous surveys. This time though, with bird flu hitting many seabird colonies, we are also asking for photographs and to report dead birds to DAFFM Avian Flu hot line.
A special focus this year is on small streams and other inflows discharging into bathing waters and shellfish waters. Coastwatch is delighted to have expanded its core team to include fresh water scientists to support training and queries.
‘Small coastal streams are important for fish like seatrout and eel’ noted John Cullen, one of the scientists.
‘In a training session for Women in Farming last week we checked a tiny stream flowing through Tintern Abbey walled gardens into Bannow Bay. It was full of life and young sea trout are regularly observed’ noted Karin. ‘We would love to mark such streams with big smiley faces on our maps and help restore others who will wear das faces for now’. In terms of government policy, the 3rd River Basin Management Plan will be submitted to the EC by the end of this year with action for coastal areas still in draft form.
Regarding waste and litter, the annual beach clean An Taisce Clean Coast organises has been moved forward to coincide with the Coastwatch survey start. So Coastwatch volunteers might do both or avoid cleaned shores and focus on others.
‘This will be the third year of recording COVID related litter and the first full year after government restrictions on a range of single use plastic (SUP directive) has come in. In December we will publish that 3 year snapshot of litter prompted by the pandemic and SUP plastic’ said Coastwatch Coordinator Karin Dubsky.
The survey is supported by the Martine Unit of the Department of Housing , Local government and Heritage.