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CoCoast: Citizen Science



I have always loved rock pooling. It brings something alive in all of us; a desire to discover.

This month I have taken part in a course that has enabled me to use my desire to discover and help science by collecting data. Capturing our Coast (CoCoast) is a charity which aims to train the public so they can become more involved and engaged in marine science.

It’s all about Citizen Science! Which is about members of the public helping to contribute to scientific knowledge by collecting, analysing and interpreting data. ‘CoCoast’ believes that members of the public should feel empowered to contribute in ways that utilize their skills and enthusiasm, instead of just observing scientists.


At the start of my training day we were educated about the work of the charity, the different project they do, their most recent being SpermWatch.

CoCoast forward their collected data to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) where the data is checked and can be used by a number of groups to:

  • Provide detailed distribution maps of marine species
  • Allow us to explore how climate change and other human impact is affecting our seas
  • Allow us to investigate if conservation policies are effective
  • Allow us to study how species interact, including marine invasive species
  • Allow us to explore local issues on the coast

They currently have two different types of survey:

Time search

The time search requires you to take 20 minutes to look around and find as many species you can in a specific area (that you set up yourself). That’s it. You just say if species are there or not. Sounds simple right?

Quadrat search

The Quadrat search is a bit more complicated and also requires some equipment (CoCoast will give you equipment on completion of the course). You do 10 quadrats at the high shore and low shore along a line and measure species abundance.


After learning the theory behind the approaches (there really isn’t much), you’ll go out into the field (well – beach). There you will practise the different searches so you feel comfortable doing it. Just enter your data on the website and you’re done!


“But I don’t know anything about species.” No problem. Everyone who completes the course is given one of 8 ID packs for you to ‘specialise’ in. These packs can be anything from seaweed to barnacles – it’s up to you. The guides are full of photos to help you on your coastal discovery.

To find out more information about the charity or to sign up for your local training day go to the website here. I promise you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Ben Holt and Catherine Oliver for some of the photos featured!

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

NEW: White Shark Interest Group Podcast Series – #003 – TOUCHING SHARKS



Third in an exciting podcast series from Ricardo Lacombe of the White Shark Interest Group.

Episode 3 of the White Shark Interest Group Podcast, Facebook’s largest White Shark specific group, covering science, conservation, news, photography, video and debate.

This episode features Melissa, Dirk, Javier and Ricardo discussing TOUCHING SHARKS and FREEDIVING WITH SHARKS. Is it OK to touch sharks? Does it do damage to the shark? What are the benefits of it for shark conservation efforts? How do modern day social media personalities like Ocean Ramsey differ from the pioneers who began the practice of touching and diving with Great Whites, like Andre Hartman, Michael Rutzen or Manny Puig? Always a hot topic!

Click the links below to listen to the podcast series on the following audio channels:

Join the group:



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Marine Life & Conservation

Review: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet



Regular contributors, CJ & Mike from Bimble in the Blue, review the Netlix documentary: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

David Attenborough’s latest and arguably most important documentary to date is now showing on Netflix.  It is, in his own words, his “witness statement” of a unique life exploring and documenting the wonders of the natural world.

Attenborough looks back and realizes that the previously gradual changes he witnessed (animal species becoming harder to find and fewer wild spaces) have now become vastly more widespread and noticeable. As the human population increased, so has the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, while the amount of wilderness has decreased.  His conclusion: human activity and man-made climate change have accelerated the pace of biodiversity loss.  This not only imperils the majority of natural habitats and creatures on Earth, but also the very future of humankind.

From images of lush green landscapes we journey with him over time to revisit these places, now wastelands. One of the most haunting is the contrast between early footage of orangutans swinging through the rainforest, to recent images of an orangutan clinging onto a lone tree devoid of all but one branch in the wreckage of a deforested site. Attenborough then makes a statement that has stuck with me since watching “A Life On This Planet”: that though we undoubtably have an obligation to care for the natural world, it’s not just about saving other species.  It is about saving ourselves.  His drive and determination to advocate and spread this message as much as possible at the age of 94 is both impressive and humbling, yet Attenborough manages to make this serious subject an unexpectedly positive learning experience.

In the final chapter of the movie Attenborough turns from the bleak reality of the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity, and offers a lifeline of hope and positivity. We can, he tells us, reverse the damage we have caused, we can save our species and the wonders of the natural world, and it can be done with just a few conceptually simple actions.  It’s enough to enthuse even the most jaded and pessimistic of conservationists!  Attenborough has an amazing ability to awaken our love of the natural world and now he shows us our future is in our hands. It’s time to act.  But we must start now and it must be a united effort.

You don’t have to be a scuba diver to be impressed with the eloquence of David Attenborough’s words, or his powerful yet simple message. We are self-confessed Attenborough super fans, but I don’t think anyone could contest that this is a stunning 1 hour and 20 minutes of hard hitting brilliance. The film closes with the comment, “Who else needs to see it?” The answer is all of us.  We highly recommend this documentary to everyone. Put simply if you watch no other documentary this year, watch this one.

For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

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