lookout spot suitable for taking a coastieA new citizen science program invites visitors to take photos in national parks to help monitor coastal change.

Citizen scientists and UWindsor to monitor coastal changes at five national parks

When you take a photo of yourself, that’s a selfie. When you take a photo of the coast, that’s a coastie!

Parks Canada is launching the Coastie Initiative, a new citizen science program in five Parks Canada administered locations. Pictures taken by visitors in these places will help monitor coastal change over time.

Cell phone cradles will be installed in specific areas at the coastal sites this year. To participate in the Coastie Initiative, visitors will be invited to scan the QR code at the Coastie site, submit their photos to coastiecanada.ca, or share their photos on social media using the #Coastie hashtag. Instructions on how to share photos will be on site at each Coastie research location. The initiative’s first stands were created by students at St. Clair College.

The photos will be analyzed and the data will be made available to the University of Windsor, who will use it to track such coastal changes as shoreline retreat, dune erosion and recovery, storm surge and ice cover, vegetation structure, beach use, and rip current locations.

“Citizen science is an ideal way for us to collect the very important information we need to monitor shoreline change across Canada,” said Chris Houser, dean of the UWindsor Faculty of Science, professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, and project lead on the Coastie initiative.

“It’s also a great opportunity for people to learn first-hand about beaches, shorelines, rip currents, and the importance of protecting the environment. If individuals are engaged in the science directly, they become great ambassadors for the type of research we’re doing and hopefully share what they’ve learned with others.”

The program will launch in Prince Edward Island National Park, Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac National Park, Point Pelee National Park, and Sable Island National Park Reserve. Between one and three Coastie stands will be installed at each site. Visitors will be able to participate even more in 2022 when additional national parks join the Coastie Initiative.

The Coastie Initiative was a winning project on the crowdsourced Innovation Competition for Parks Canada employees, a contest to promote solutions to natural resource conservation challenges. Employees from across the agency had the opportunity to propose projects directly linked to one of Parks Canada’s conservation priorities.