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Capturing Our Coast

Discover the species that live in our seas and find out how to protect them

From biodiversity and food supply to the livelihoods of millions, so much depends on our oceans and coastlines.

But these precious natural resources need our help more than ever. Pollution, overfishing, invasive species and climate change are threatening marine life.

We need to better understand the current state of the nature on the UK’s coastlines so that we can protect it for future generations.

What is Capturing our Coast?

Capturing our Coast is a project where people around the UK help scientists better understand coastal wildlife.

Starting in 2016, the project trained almost 3,000 citizen scientists to carry out detailed surveys of marine life on the UK’s rocky shores. Scientists have used the data collected to fill knowledge gaps about the diversity of animals and seaweeds on our coasts.

The first phase of Capturing our Coast was a collaboration between Earthwatch Europe and seven other conservation and academic organisations. Earthwatch was responsible for coordinating the volunteers who collected much of the data, and who were crucial to the success of the project.

Phase 1 of the project ended in autumn 2018, but there are still plenty of activities for people to get involved with.

Our impact so far

The first phase of the Capturing our Coast project was a huge success. The data collected is providing scientists with a detailed understanding of the marine life around the UK’s coasts, and will be useful for decades to come.

Another important focus of the project was to encourage the public to take part in scientific research. The enthusiasm showed by the volunteers inspired all the researchers involved and proved citizen scientists can deliver robust and critically important research on a large scale. 


Nearly 3,000 volunteers were trained to carry out detailed surveys of marine life


locations were surveyed across the whole country


scientific publications have used Capturing our Coast data


of organised events, including data collection days and social events


data points were collected during 1,700 survey days

How can I get involved?

Although the first phase of the project has ended, there are still plenty of opportunities for anyone to get involved in marine conservation.

We have several activities that anyone can try, which will provide scientists with the data they need to understand the diversity of marine life on our rocky shores. Some of the activities will also help analyse the data collected during Capturing our Coast – and with so much data to get through, we need all the help we can get!

Below are just a few of the activities that you can still take part in. You can find more on the Capturing our Coast website.

Blame it on the barnacles

Help us understand how climate change is affecting marine life. Join our new online project ‘Blame it on the Barnacles’, and analyse barnacle photographs taken by Capturing our Coast volunteers.

From the comfort of your own home, you can help scientists to assess how marine species are responding to warming seas.

Beach babies

Our shores provide shelter for egg laying and young hatchlings all year round. Join us looking for eggs and juveniles of crabs, dog whelks, seaweeds, and shrimps, to help us understand how climate change is affecting key British species.

Marine invaders

Our seas are being invaded! By telling us about the non-native animals and seaweeds you spot, you can inform future management decisions on the control of non-native species.

The CoastXplore app

No matter where you are on the UK coast, you can join our coastal usage survey by downloading our brand new app to help marine planning decisions.

Find out more

Our coasts

Find out more about our research into the threats facing our coastlines.

Images: iStock/Rob Cherry, Rory Mackinnon, iStock/Leon Woods, iStock/Corhill 65, iStock/Brett Taylor, iStock/Frank Lu


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