Beach clean, Cramond. Robert Ormerod.

Rounding up Citizen Science Month

4 minute read

We organised activities across the UK over the course of Citizen Science Month in April, to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in citizen science, learn new skills and help inspire real change.

Thank you to everyone who got involved in Citizen Science Month this year! It’s brilliant to see people of all ages and from all over the UK working together to do something positive for our ocean. By working together, we can make a bigger impact and achieve more for our seas.


volunteers took part in our citizen science activities in April

Oyster Observer Guide training session

Our Shellfish Engagement Officer, Anna, led a session in Longniddry, where 13 volunteers learned how to monitor native oysters as part of the Restoration Forth project.

To support the restoration of 30,000 oysters to the Firth of Forth, we’ve developed the Oyster Observer Guide. This citizen science tool contributes to our assessment of sites to determine their suitability for oyster restoration, enabling us to identify the best locations.

During the training session, members of the public were taught how to use the Oyster Observer Guide and learned how to identify oyster shells, mark out a transect and carry out the survey, before inputting their survey results.

The training session provided the skills for participants to contribute to restoring oysters to the Firth of Forth, with one participant saying it “Gave [me the] knowledge and confidence to do surveys on my own.”

oyster observation guide on beach

Credit: Caitlin Godfrey

Beach cleans and litter survey training

Throughout the month, our Beachwatch team held beach cleaning sessions in Wales, Scotland, and England. As well as removing litter from around our coast, they took volunteers through how to record what they found and submit the data, which feeds into our 30-year Beachwatch dataset and the OSPAR database, maintained by a group of countries in the NE Atlantic working together on plastic pollution.

This citizen science data has influenced the introduction of carrier bag charges and single-use plastic bans, and with more data, we can call for further measures to reduce litter pollution in our blue spaces.


volunteers took part in a beach clean


litter surveys submitted

On the 16th of April, 12 volunteers took to the beach in Cramond. Among them were five staff members from NQ64, an arcade-themed bar in Edinburgh, who really enjoyed their day. Connor, the General Manager at NQ64 said, “The guys had a great time today and I'd very much like to continue to push our team to participate in projects that improve our local community. Working with Marine Conservation Society was a great start to this initiative.”

Citizen science isn't just fun for adults, though. At our session on Sand Bay - where volunteers collected 1,484 litter items - a family that joined us said, “The children loved the beach clean and have been talking about it ever since!"

Beach clean - citizen science month 2024

Credit: Claire Edwards

Our OSPAR clean on the 20th of April in Littlehampton welcomed 22 eager volunteers, including six brand new beach cleaners, who were thrilled to be joining us in such an important month and for such a worthwhile cause. The group collected 78kg of litter, the majority of which was plastic, as with the other cleans.

Armed with the skills and knowledge to take part in beach cleans and complete the accompanying litter surveys, volunteers who took part in these events can now go on take part in beach cleans whenever they like – good news for Laura and Rory, who said they had a brilliant morning and will certainly be back for the next one!

OSPAR beach clean - citsci month 24

Credit: Claire Edwards

We also welcomed a group of ten students aged 7 to 13 and two staff members from Sunningdale School, who travelled all the way from Berkshire to Littlehampton to take part. They got stuck into the data collection enthusiastically, sorting litter and offering to help record the weight of items using our kit scales.

Erica, a teacher from the school, said, “The boys and myself had a fantastic day. It was brilliantly organised and we cannot wait to do another one. It’s such a good feeling knowing that we made a contribution to keeping our beaches cleaner.”

The students felt excited and proud to take part in their first beach clean and enjoyed taking note of what they were collecting and some of the strange things that they found. All of them were keen to participate in another beach clean in future, highlighting the fun and enjoyment to be found in citizen science.

Primary school clean - citsci month

Credit: Claire Edwards

Other activities

As well as monitoring oysters and recording vital data about marine litter pollution, members of the public could take part in our other citizen science activities by reporting their wildlife sightings, doing inland litter picks, and going seaweed spotting. No matter which activity volunteers completed, nor how much time they committed, they all contributed valuable data on the state of our marine environment.


wildlife sightings submitted


Big Seaweed Searchers


Source to Sea litter pickers

If you didn’t get a chance to take part in Citizen Science Month, don’t worry – you can get involved in citizen science at any time. Whether you want to join or organise a beach clean, go on an inland litter pick, or tell us about marine life or seaweed species you see at the coast, you can make a difference whilst doing something fun.

We have all the resources you need to get stuck in to these activities, including guides and training videos, so you can complete an activity at a time that suits you.

Find out more about our citizen science projects

Citizen Science projects