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Seashore Snapshots

Sessile species (species that largely stay in the same place) on our rocky shores can be good indicators of local environmental conditions such as water temperature and water quality. The presence or absence of such species, changes in the frequency of occurrence of individuals species and changes in their abundance can all be indicators of changes in the local environment.

Our Seashore Snapshots Survey is looking for volunteers to take digital photographs of barnacle and limpet species on our rocky shores. You don’t need any identification expertise – just know what a barnacle and a limpet look like (see the photos below!).

Getting involved is easy all you need is a camera and to download out printable Seashore Snaphots photo frames. Your photos will be stored and analysed by experts who will identify the species present and their density in terms of percentage cover.

Pick a site to survey

Any rocky shore will do look for areas where barnacles and/or limpets are growing on rocks and boulders. Record the date and the location of your survey.

Survey Method

Use our online recording form (if you have data access) or our downloadable survey form to record your location and keep track of photos taken.

Please complete a new survey form for each new site visited and each new survey at that site (sites should be surveyed once every 3 months at most).

The aim of the survey is to take 10 snapshots – 5 on the middle-shore and 5 on the lower shore using our Seashore Snapshot Printable Frame of one or both of the 2 target species.

Taking Your Photos

Take 5 snapshots on the middle-shore and 5 snapshots on the lower shore. Take your snapshots where barnacle or limpet cover is most dense – i.e. areas where 50% or more of the rock surface is covered by the species (unless no such areas can be found).

  • Select Frame A for barnacles or Frame B for limpets.
  • Use blue tack to stick your frame in place.
  • Ensure that in your image you can just see all four edges of the inside frame.
  • Ensure that your image is in focus and take several shots of each frame.
  • Select the sharpest, clearest shot for each frame (zoom in on image to check for sharpness) and delete the rest before moving on to your second frame. Play around with you camera settings – try using macro and with flash on or off.
  • Repeat for each frame.
  • See example shots below…

Uploading Your Results

Submit your 10 selected frame photos – 5 from the middle shore and 5 from the lower shore for each species via our online form.


  • Before doing your Seashore Snapshots Survey, please check the weather forecast and the tides.
  • Be aware of the dangers of an incoming tide and becoming trapped or cut off by the tide. Aim to start your survey 1 – 2 hours before low water and be off the shore before the tide changes.
  • On the west coast always keep an eye on the sea for rogue swells, particularly if working near the waters edge. Never turn your back on the sea.
  • Tell somebody where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and wear appropriate footwear for the ground you will be walking.
  • Stay clear of the base of cliffs as there is a danger of falling rocks or being buried by cliff material.
  • Bring a fully charged mobile phone with you in case you need to call for help. If you do need to call for help, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Pollution, Fish Kills, Fly Tipping

If, while out on the coast, 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.

See it? Say It!