An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

How to record on beaches


Regularly observing the location and behavior of marine and coastal species is important for scientists to understand how our our wildlife is responding to changes in climate. By following the instructions below you can help scientists and policy-makers make informed decisions about how to protect our marine environment whilst having fun and exploring our beautify sandy beaches.

Watch our instructional video to learn more about field safety and how to record on ClimateWatch species on the beach.

Before starting your surveys, make sure you review the below sections on safety, equipment and field methods:

Field Safety 

  1. Carry adequate water.  Coastal environments can get hot and you may become dehydrated quickly.
  2. Remember to slip, slop, slap.  Apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing and a good hat; it's easy to get burnt on the beach and platforms.
  3. Wear protective footwear and gloves.  You'll need good footwear with lots of grip. Gloves are important for not damaging marine life and protecting yourself against stings. 
  4. Bring a friend. Fieldwork is best done in pairs; your buddy can look after you and a second pair of eyes always helps.
  5. Bring a phone and first aid kit. You may need to call emergency services or a friend if you need help.

And remember, do not handle jellyfish or cone shells with your bare hands!  Their stings can be dangerous and stay active for several days even after they wash up onshore. 


You will need these items to help you record on our species:

  • ClimateWatch marine Beach Information Kit
  • ClimateWatch marine field guides or ClimateWatch Beach Multi-species Guide
  • Camera
  • GPS
  • A pair of binoculars (or use the zoom on your camera)
  • OR a smartphone with the ClimateWatch app downloaded.  Download the app for your iPhone of Android here.

Weather conditions

Make sure to check the Bureau of Meteorology for weather conditions and the state of the tide before you go into the field.

How to record on beaches

ClimateWatch marine uses a 30 minute survey method to record.  Using our Beach Information Kit, you will find information detailing our method, FAQs, and a datasheet.  Before starting the survey, make sure to write down any potential risks or safety issues, state of the tide, and weather conditions on the datasheet. Never enter the water during your survey.

  • Start your stopwatch for 30 minutes or record your start time.
  • Walk along the beach and pay attention to: the strandline, corners of beaches, the sky above the sand dunes, and the ocean.  
  • Use the ClimateWatch Field Guides to help identify species.
  • Record the frequency of each species and the habitat where it occurs the most.

  • For each of the species found, make sure to note special behaviours or traits.
  • Make sure to upload your data to our website or through the mobile app when you are done.