What is Coast Watchers?

What is Coast Watchers?

Over the coming weeks and months you’ll hear more about this new project, as points start to appear on the beach. So what is Coast Watchers? It’s a new project to collect and share interesting information about the Wyre coastline and how it changes.

It’s a partnership between us here at Visit Fylde Coast, Wyre Council’s engineering team, and Michael Lusty, a Masters student at Lancaster University.

We’re using your real-life observations, including lots of photos, along with information from different existing data sources like tide and weather gauges. The purpose is to properly understand (and share) what’s happening on our section of shoreline.

Why Watching the Coast is Important

We’re lucky here on the Fylde Coast because the vast majority of our sea defences are man-made. Most of them new or well maintained but other areas of the UK coast aren’t so lucky.

For example, cliff top homes in Hemsby, on the Norfolk coast, were at the point of collapsing into the sea. High winds and waves eroded the sand dunes in March 2018. Seeing this brings home just how vulnerable we could be as a coastal community, and why we should always respect the sea.

Read about the Norfolk coast collapse

What is Coast Watchers?

Lots of us enjoy finding out about the life of the beach.

We like to know about the weather (good and bad!), the storms, the tides, the moon and levels of sand on the beach. We’re interested in the animals which come and go and the rubbish that gets left behind. In fact some of us like to know about everything that makes up the marine environment.

If you’re one of those people then you’ll want to know what the Coast Watchers project is. Initially it’s for the Wyre coastline from Cleveleys to Knott End so why don’t you be part of it?

What do you want to know about the coast?

Most people ask the same types of questions.

Things like ‘why is there a channel in a particular spot on the beach’. You should always take care not to get cut off on sandbanks on the beach.

Another really popular question is ‘why is the shingle island off Fleetwood getting so big?’ It’s always been there but why is it out of the water at high tide, when it wasn’t before?

Those of us who love the coast know that the beach moves about every day. One day there might be a sandbank, the next day a carved out channel. These are ephemeral changes and it takes a longer period of time to measure an actual trend.

Between lots of us we might be able to work out the answer to bigger questions. For example ‘is an 8m tide still reaching the same point on the beach now that it did 5 years ago’. Or maybe, what is an 8m tide.

We want to know what you want to know – we want to be able to answer your questions and investigate the reasons behind the things you want to know. Email your question to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk and we’ll endeavour to find out!

What information is already out there?

You might already enjoy watching our own beach-cam (when it’s not misted up with salt!).

There are other interesting websites that can help you to identify ships at sea and for plane tracking and such like.

We don’t miss a lot here at Visit Fylde Coast, but even we were surprised to find out just how many more measuring devices are operating around our shoreline. You can access equipment that records weather conditions at sea, with tide gauges and wave buoys

Coming back soon is our own daily weather forecast and tide tables. We’ll be adding other feeds from weather stations, gauges, buoys, radar and satellites.

  • What information would you find interesting and we can try to include it?
  • Another one of our questions is ‘where are the exact spots on our coast line that you’d like to monitor?’

…what’s going to happen that’s new?

Along with collating all this weird and wonderful information, we’re also looking at new ways to record things. For example, how the photos that you take at the coast could be translated into a meaningful record of measurement.

This is the whizzy bit so it might take a bit of working out, but we’re well into the first stages.

One thing is for sure, whether you’re a complete amateur or a pro, we’ll certainly be asking you to take photos.

How you can join in with Coast Watchers

Pull your wellingtons on and get involved with Coast Watchers
Pull your wellingtons on and get involved with Coast Watchers

There are three main ways in which you can get involved with Coast Watchers. You can join in a little bit or a lot.

  1. Rossall Beach Residents & Community Group is the community partner in the project.
    Come along to beach clean-ups and meetings for a chat and an update. If you’re involved with the Rossall Beach Group you’ll be one of the first to find out what’s happening.
  2. There’s a small Coast Watchers Community Group, made up of people who are interested in developing the project.
    If you’re interested in the weather, photography, computers, beaches, sea defences, science and engineering then get in touch and join in. It’s important that everyone can understand Coast Watchers and take part, so you don’t have to be a rocket scientist – just interested.
    This small group of people are making more detailed photographic records of areas of beach.
  3. Watch out for the marker points and signs that will start to appear. When they do, you can take and upload photos while you’re out walking the dog, knowing that you’re contributing your bit to local science!

We’ll be building an online Coast Watchers portal here on Visit Fylde Coast. You’ll be able to see lots of fascinating information and share your records. Regular readers of Visit Fylde Coast will already know that we always like to have a conversation WITH our readers, and we’ll be providing you with lots of exciting opportunities to join in.

I wonder what we’ll come up with? Stick with us and be part of it.

Other interesting resources

Have a look at our Coast Watchers Twitter list for some interesting resources and organisations which you might be interested in.

Meanwhile, make sure that you’ve signed up for the weekly Visit Fylde Coast enews. Not only will you get updates about this project, you’ll get lots of other interesting information every week too.

Low levels of shingle on Rossall Beach at Cleveleys. Where does it all go? Find out with Coast Watchers
Low levels of shingle on Rossall Beach at Cleveleys. Where does it all go? Why does the beach rise and fall?

While you’re here…

Have a look at the Visit Fylde Coast website homepage for more of the latest updates.

Love the Fylde Coast? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter. It’s packed full of interesting things and will arrive in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.

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