Coastal Citizen Science Projects for

High School and College Students


Gather data through public collaboration in scientific research

Learn Science and learn how to be a Scientist


Citizen science (CS; also known as community science, crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, volunteer monitoring, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as "public participation in scientific research," participatory monitoring, and participatory action research.




A. Beach profiling to measure changes in the contour of the monitored beach. Comparing profile lines recorded at different times makes it possible to measure changes in the distribution of sand on the beach. Tracking these changes over long periods provides scientists with data to identify seasonal, annual, and even track long-term trends in beach erosion and accretion.


B. Identify, track and create a local baseline for seabird, migratory coastal bird or coastal bird populations.


C. Plant and monitor dune grass and vegetated stands to measure how the plants are growing and surviving; and to test the effects of replanted dune grass areas on sediment and climate dynamics.


D. Report and monitor invasive non-native coastal species. Such as:

Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus)

Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis)

European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)

Asian Sea Squirt (Styela clava)

Carpet Tunicate (Didemnum vexillum)

Devil's Tongue Weed (Grateloupia turuturu)

Dead Man's Fingers/Green Fleece (Codium fragile)

Phragmites (Phragmites australis ssp. australis)

Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Mute Swans (Cygnus olor)

Nutria (Myocastor coypus)


E. Observe disturbance of winter seal haul out sites, and spring and summer osprey platforms using spotting scopes and binoculars.

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F. Conduct seasonal plankton studies. Understanding where and when plankton occurs along the coast will allow scientists to get a better understanding of the function and health of coastal and estuarine waters from different scales.


G. Survey of Marine debris impact on wildlife. Report the animal (species of common name), injury types (ingestion or entanglement, type of marine debris, and basic information, such as location, date, and photos.


H. Wetland mapping. Study, identify, and describe how wetland species and habitat changes over time, either seasonally or longer; and explain the implications for organisms.


I. Conduct a biological study of coastal waters. Using seine nets and/or minnow traps, research organisms in a coastal food web over time, either seasonally or longer, and outline food web relationships.


Interested in helping or do you have another idea for a project, please contact Save Coastal Wildlife for information and assistance.