Beach Watch

Beach Watch at Pinnacle Gulch
A group of people gathered on a beach.
Beach Watch group looking at the ocean through binoculars

Beach Watch is Now Recruiting for Volunteer Surveyors!

For 30 years, Beach Watch has monitored the presence of bird, marine mammal, oil and human uses along the California coast. Data are collected at 62 survey sites by 150 community volunteers trained in seabird and marine mammal identification and emergency response. Our long-term dataset provides a rare glimpse into long-term changes in wildlife and human use along our coast. Resource managers and scientists leverage Beach Watch data to answer many wildlife health and coastal management questions. Unusual mortality events can be used as indicators of wildlife and ecosystem health and changes in climate, wildlife distribution can be used to inform and designate new wildlife protection areas, and oil deposition can provide crucial evidence on damages to wildlife and coastline from oil spills. Data gathered by our volunteers has helped secure over $52 million to assess damage to and enhance loss of natural resources and recreational uses.

Beach Watch is a program of Greater Farallones Association and Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, in partnership with MPA Watch, California Academy of Sciences, National Park Service, Point Blue Conservation Science, BEACHCombers, COASST, Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Current program grant funders: Beach Watch thanks Resources Legacy Fund, Firedoll Foundation, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, and Bernice Barbour Foundation for their grant support.

Latest News

Beach Watch Welcomes 18 New Volunteers

January 2022
Limantour Beach; Photo Credit: BW/GFNMS/NOAA

The Beach Watch Program has welcomed 18 new volunteers to its survey team! Beach Watch volunteers are highly trained community scientists who help us collect important wildlife, human use, and pollution data along our Sanctuary coastline. Volunteer training includes classroom, fieldwork, and mentoring, in collaboration with MPA Watch.

Interview with a Long-time Beach Watcher

September 2020
A long-time Beach Watcher hiking

Blog by Natalie Moon, Greater Farallones Association Summer Intern, 2020

During her internship with Greater Farallones Association, Natalie had the opportunity to interview one of our long-time Beach Watch volunteers. Learn what motivates one community scientist, and read about the most interesting things she’s seen while surveying the Sanctuary’s coastline. Read more.

Beach Watch Turns 25

January 2018

A quarter-century ago in 1993, following a series of disastrous oil spills, Beach Watch was born out of a need for a baseline of conditions and wildlife along our coast. Decades later, the Beach Watch baseline dataset paints a complex portrait of the wildlife, ocean conditions, and human impacts in the region. From helping to determine critical restoration priorities and securing $52 million in restoration funds after oil spills, to training over 400 dedicated volunteers, Beach Watch has been helping to protect the California coast through citizen science for over 25 years. Read more.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary, the Sanctuary created a short film that went on to win the 16th Annual International Ocean Film Festival’s Citizen Science Award.

Beach Watch 2018 Accomplishments (PDF)

Learn more on the Beach Watch website.

Photo credit: Beach Watch/GFNMS/NOAA