CoCoast has created a unique picture of the patterns of life on our rocky shores. This has been hugely useful for understanding how our coasts might change with our changing climate in the face of heatwaves, storms, and a generally warming world. Where the data becomes incredibly valuable is as a baseline against which we can judge the effects of such events as they happen. Has the hot summer of 2018 had an impact on rocky shore species, for example?
While the first CoCoast project will end in October 2018, we welcome more CoCoast species package data from our network of trained volunteers. There will not be the ongoing support that we were able to offer during the project but, as highly trained surveyors, you will be able to upload results to the website until you hear otherwise. Practically, surveys of the same sites every year at the same time would be most useful. We will review these data every few months and use them to answer questions about the continuing changes on our seashores.
Whilst support and contact for volunteers will be limited, a number of our experiments and campaigns will still be running for volunteers to take part in and submit data. These include Beach Babies, Wading Birds, Seaweeds Vs. Limpets, CoCoast Xplore, Marine Invaders & Microlives. For further details and resources click on the project names above.
All of the resources which were available to trained volunteers will remain available on the website. In addition, a pdf pack of all species cards will be compiled and available for download. If you require any other resources, please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any technical queries regarding the website or data upload, please send them to email@example.com.
Other CoCoast email addresses for individual hubs will no longer be manned after 31st October 2018, excluding the CoCoast Southwest Team at the Marine Biological Association who will continue to monitor incoming emails for their regional volunteers on a voluntary basis for the foreseeable future (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you wish to continue to survey, the equipment is yours to keep. If you would like to return it, please drop it in or post it back to your hub. Alternatively, you are welcome to donate it to a local school or conservation organisation who can make use of it.
Dr Jane Delany, CoCoast Principle Investigator, Newcastle University
“We are incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm and contributions of our volunteer community. Your skill and conservation capacity as a national community is hugely valued and we don’t want to lose this. We intend to build on our collective successes to forge ahead with a second phase of this project, which for purposes here, we refer to as ‘CoCoast 2’. We hope you will continue to work with us and that your experience so far has been positive.
‘CoCoast 2’ will most certainly retain many elements that are similar to the original project. We know we share the same goals of working towards greater understanding of how marine species interact, what affects where they occur on our coasts, how they are negatively impacted. So, continued learning about marine life and surveying together will be a core element of the next phase. Certain tasks and questions require longer term datasets to fully explore the issues, and you will see some familiar topics reappearing, such as addressing the spread of invasive species and monitoring particular shores to examine closely how breeding is affected by environmental change. We also plan to run some exciting, short term experiments where the results can be revealed after 4-8 weeks: our ‘Short Sharp Shocks of Science’. We hope you will agree that all of this is very worthy and inspiring, but we also want to be really innovative and move beyond what we achieved in Capturing our Coast.
Citizen science is evolving; it is becoming remarkable in the way it empowers people, and increasingly volunteers are shaping the projects and the scientific issues that are being addressed. We want you, our Capturing our Coast community, to be part of this movement of ‘co-enquiry’ and work with us to shape the structure of the next project. This may sound daunting, but we believe that you have the valuable insights and ideas to progress UK marine conservation and further marine research. Together we will build CoCoast 2 communities around the UK, where volunteers have much greater say over data collection priorities.
As I am sure you will appreciate, this all requires funding. And sourcing funding requires development and time. We will collate evidence, not only to convince funders that CoCoast 2 is valuable, but to ensure for ourselves that we get the structure right. To this end, over the next year we will be researching perspectives from volunteers and relevant organisations. We will be holding workshops to brainstorm ways of working, and to find out what volunteers really want. We will update all on our communication database about our progress in autumn 2019. There is a real opportunity here to develop something truly innovative, that not only captures important information with immediate and direct benefits for the marine environment, but that develops a new model of collaborative working between professional scientists and marine citizen scientists. The longer term ramifications for marine conservation could be really significant.
We hope that you will feel as we do, that the wait will be worth it.”
We are currently analysing all the data from our special investigations and the species package surveys. A number of scientific papers will be produced from this. We have produced a project report which details some of the initial findings and updates from all regional hubs. Overviews of the main findings from each special investigation will be posted to the website once the analysis and any publications are completed. All of the species package survey data is currently being verified and once this process is complete, all records will be uploaded to the National Biodiversity Network's Global Atlas where it will be available for anyone to use (https://nbnatlas.org/). Any surveys you carry out after 30th September can be uploaded or you can send your data sheets directly to the Dove Marine Laboratory, Cullercoats, North Shields NE30 4PZ.
We want to say thank you to every single volunteer who has been involved in Capturing Our Coast, no matter how big or small your contribution. Everything you have done has helped make this project a success - with almost 3,000 trained volunteers and more than 20,000 quadrats from around 1,800 sites over the past three years - it has been a great project and we are very sad to see it end...for now!