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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Weekend Marine Science



Beach diary

Visit a particular beach on a regular basis taking note of what is there and what changes. Use a diary or log book to record your observations. You can use a ruled or blank note book; it can be a visual or written diary. To make it scientific include details that can be used to make comparisons (see sample to right).

Some things to look for:

  • How high is the water level? Is it the same as last time you were there?
  • Does the beach have sand? Has anything changed about the sand? E.g. colour, amount, distribution. Can you explain any changes? Has there been any recent weather events that could explain them? If you have a digital camera you can take photos of the same section of the beach each time you visit to help keep a record of changes.
  • Is anything washed up on the beach (look at the margin between the soft and hard sand, there is usually a wavy line of things that collect there). Look for different or unusual things, do you know what they are? How can you find out? Look for groups of things, e.g. types of seaweed, dead animals, shells, drift wood, rubbish, flotsam and jetsam. Where did these things come from?
  • Are there any birds around? What are they doing, e.g. hunting, resting, flying, grooming? What type are they? Can you work out the peck order (which is the most dominant bird?)
  • Are there people about? What are they doing? What ways are they using the beach?
  • Note any similarities or differences in the last time you visited this beach. Are there any patterns? How could you explain them?

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Log book details

Date: Time: Tide:
Site: Weather:
Equipment used: e.g. Binoculars, thermometer, tape measure, snorkelling gear, hand lens, scales.
Observations: What you did, where you looked, things you saw etc.

What else can you do?

  • Find another beach to use as a comparison, what things are similar and different about this beach? What reasons could you give to explain any similarities and differences from your observations?
  • Use some of the reference links on the MESA website to find out more about beach erosion, sand types, shells types, effect of storm water runoff on beaches, marine birds, etc.


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