Do the Coastal Walkabout and Help Collate National Wildlife Database


Story by Dr. Rachael Marshall

Introducing “Coastal Walkabout”

Document wildlife sightings wherever you are and help collate a nation-wide database

“Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you’re really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfing’s as raw of a sport as it gets”
Kelly Slater

Kelly touches on an notion that we all believe when we are out in or on the water. We disengage from the mundane tasks of life and enjoy just being there, amongst it. A big part of that is stepping away from a human-dominated world and into nature, its gentleness and its fury, that can calm you, invigorate you and release you for the ties of a world of schedules and deadlines.

Picture 13Surfers and water babes alike, have an affinity with nature and passion for what nature delivers. Sharine waves with bottle nose dolphins, turtles catching a breath next to you as your wait for the next set, a white bellied sea eagle buzz’s you looking for prey, or a a dark shadow comes and says good-morning.

Whilst we live to enjoy these moments, we can do so much more with what we see; we can record it and store it for scientists, conservationists and environmental managers to use to manage and protect places that YOU might know to be an important or unique area such as a feeding ground for dolphins or a milling area for whales, or areas of high seasonality, but they may not. Knowledge and information is power.


Introducing Coastal Walkabout. 

Picture 12Coastal Walkabout is an open access, dynamic, citizen science initiative which utilises smart phone technology and social media to connect with and motivate local communities to gather scientific observations within the coastal, estuarine and near-shore environments. It is a fantastic tool that I have been advocating since I learned about it a few months ago. The philosophy behind Coastal Walkabout was conceived through collaborative discussions between Marine Ventures Foundation (USA), the Marine Conservation Ecology group at Duke University (USA) and the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit.  This APP was developed by GAIA Resources with input from Duke University, Marine Ventures Foundation and Murdoch University. The development of the APP was made possible through grants from Lotterywest and Murdoch University.

As many of you may know I manage a marine park and coastal areas in the NW of Western Australia – many of these areas don’t have phone reception, vessels are not conducive to a notepad and pen, and collecting wildlife observations from visitors in remote areas is near impossible. Adding to this, collating the information and finding one spot to store it all is much harder than one would think. Over the last few trips to our remote marine park, I have trialled the coastal walkabout app and have been highly impressed with its user friendliness and accuracy in logging my location without reception. Big thumbs up. Since then I have spread the word across the local community in an effort to collect as much data as possible! We know these areas are beautiful, unique havens for wildlife; we now have a cost-free avenue to document it!

How does it work?

SO EASY – you’ll love it.

First: download the App. It is available for both androids and iPhones.

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  • Step 1: Open Ap, you can record a siting or start a track if you were conducting a wildlife survey.
  • Step 2: Select animal group
  • Step 3: Select species. If its not an option, click other and continue
  • Step 4: Record the details, including location and group size and any additional comments such as feeding, social interaction etc. You can also add photos. Check out some of the photos i took with my phone below, and uploaded onto the app.
  • Step 5: check and upload. If you not in an area with reception, the Ap stores it for later input when you are in reception.

The data is then stored on a central database and available to EVERYONE. At any time you can export a file documenting all the sightings in a specific area via the link below. You can export the file as an ArcGIS shape file or a google earth layer. School students can use it for projects, community environmental groups can use it for surveys, bird watchers can use it to document their sightings and the list goes on.

Let’s get together and start recording! You’ll be amazed at how addictive it is.

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