Improving the recording of marine wildlife strandings in Scotland
The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Schemevisit site
THE public can now play a vital role in helping marine scientists gather data on animal strandings and the condition of Scotland’s beaches.
The free Beach Track app, which we developed for the The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, allows those taking a stroll on the sands to submit information on beach cleanliness – including levels of litter, plastic waste and pollution – and on any stranded animals, such as dolphins or whales.
The information will help to build up a “health map” of Scotland’s coastline, potentially targeting beach cleans to areas which need it most.
The app features both the ability to record ad-hoc sightings but also background tracking functionality, to enable participants to record their route and add any sightings as they go. This provides much more useful data than simply recording a stranding in an ad-hoc fashion since it effectively measures both the time spent and distance searched by participants.
The app and website were designed to make the process of recording and visualising the data as easy and clear as possible.
Maps feature simple colour coding to reflect the cleanliness of beaches and record details can be investigated within the app and website by tapping on locations.
The app and website both feature clear statistics on the user’s own progress and that of the project as a whole.
Given the unlikelihood of participants finding strandings, the statistics within the project serve a key purpose in maintaining engagement.
Distance walked and time spent recording are given more emphasis than number of sightings. A leaderboard based on the number of tracks completed adds a level of gamification and reward.