Rocky Shore Safari

Our rocky shores are a challenging place for plant and animals to live. Twice each day the area between low tide and high tide is covered in saltwater and then exposed to the air and sun for varying periods of time. The battle to adapt to life on the rocky shore has created one of our richest areas for nature, with hundreds of different types of plant and animal to be found on any given stretch of our rocky shore.

The Explore Your Shore! Rocky Shore Safari is designed to record the distribution of seaweeds and animals around the Irish coastline. We are asking you to spend an hour of your time searching a rocky shore for our Big 30 tick list of Rocky Shore Safari species, but invite you to record any and all species you can find and identify.

Introduction talk by Dave Wall

When to Survey

Your survey should be conducted to coincide with low tide. For information on tide times check your tide tables or see:

Aim to start your survey 1-2 hours before low tide – survey of your lower shore box should coincide with low water.

What You Need:

  • The paper form or the online webform with internet access.
  • A printed or digital copy of the Rocky Shore Safari Big 30! tick list.
  • A camera or smartphone to take pictures of the plants and animals you want to record.
  • A fully charged mobile phone in case you need to call for assistance.
  • Some guidebooks or online guides to the seashore… see for suggestions.
  • Your Seashore Snapshots printable quadrats if you want to survey barnacles/limpets/mussels.
  • At least 1 hour to dedicate to the survey once on the shore.

Survey Method:

  • Please complete a new survey form for each new shore visited and each new survey at that shore.
  • Please record your details and the site details
  • Please record your seaweedd and animal species on the paper/online form.
  • The aim of the survey is to record as many seaweed and animal species as possible, while trying to find the all the seaweeds and animals listed on the Rocky Shore Safari Big 30! tick list.
  • This is a timed survey. There is no upper limit to how long you spend on the survey, but we ask that you spend a minimum of 20 minutes at surveying the upper, middle and lower shore respectively (e. 60 minutes in total). Please record the amount of time you spent (in minutes) surveying each area of the shore and the start time and finish time of your survey.
  • Focus your search on a strip no more than 10m wide and please survey all the way from the high-water mark to the water’s edge. Please try to survey a representative amount of each part of the upper, middle and lower shore.

To help locate the lower, middle and upper zone on the shore, look for the following key seaweed species:

  •  Upper Zone – The upper zone lies at the top of the shore, nearest dry land. Look for classic upper zone seaweeds such as channelled wrack and spiralled wrack.

Channelled Wrack    Spiral Wrack

  • Middle Zone – The middle zone lies half-way along the slope of the shore between high water and low water. Look for classic middle zone seaweeds such as egg wrack and bladder wrack.

Egg Wrack                  Bladder Wrack

  • Lower Zone – The lower zone lies adjacent to the sea at low water. Look for classic lower zone seaweeds such as serrated wrack and dulse.

Serrated Wrack         Dulse

  • Don’t forget to look under seaweed, rocks and search in cracks, crevices and rockpools. Be sure to carefully replace seaweed and rocks as you found them!
  • Please take and submit a photograph of each species recorded – only species records with photographs can be submitted on our survey website.
  • Upload your survey data using our online form.


  • Bring a friend… surveying with friends or in groups can add to the enjoyment!
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Bring a fully charged mobile phone with you
  • Please avoid surveying where weather warnings are in place for your survey area.
  • Check the weather and tides before you leave for the shore
  • Start your survey and hour or two before low tide. Aim to survey the lower zone around low tide.
  • Ensure that you keep an eye on the tide and do not become trapped by the incoming tide.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather
  • Wear appropriate shoes for the ground you will be covering
  • Do not attempt to survey dangerous shores or shores which are difficult to access.
  • Keep away from areas of deep water.
  • Keep away from the base of cliffs, where falling debris may be a hazard.
  • If you get into trouble and require assistance, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.


Pollution, Fish Kills, Fly Tipping

If, while out on survey, you notice a water pollution or fish kill incident or fly tipping issue, please use the See It? Say It App to report it to the Environmental Protection Agency. Get the iPhone or Android App by Downloading it from the iTunes APP store or Download it from the Google Play store.