Explore the shore

smiles_on_beachBecause the intertidal zone is easily accessible — you can get there every time the tide goes out — we have a great opportunity to carry out quadrat studies in order to learn more about the marine life around us.

What’s a quadrat study?

It’s a biological assessment that uses a grid system to collect data on how many creatures of different kinds are found at specific tide heights on the beach.  If you repeat the study each year, at the same locations,  you can monitor changes in the marine life. It’s a great way to learn about life on the shoreline and what’s changing.

Even if you only do it once, it’s a fun way to learn and spend some time at the beaches we love so much.

What do I need?

The easiest way to do an intertidal quadrat is to download our Techniques Manual, which outlines how to do surveys in detail and provides tips and other helpful information, including a list of the equipment and field guides that you’ll need.  You can do some or all of what is described depending on your time and interest.  The Manual is adaptable to what you want to do

What else will you need?  The Manual gives you the full list but here are a few basic things you’ll need to have:

  • field guides
  • measuring tape
  • quadrat frames
  • spool of line or string
  • data sheets (primary, secondary, transect and station) to record the local conditions and intertidal species found (don’t forget your pencils!)
  • master list of intertidal species, species groups and tips on identifying them
  • a beach with rocks no smaller than the size of a fish and not too large to turn over
  • A low tide that goes below one meter

Intertidal life within each quadrat frame, both on top and underneath the rocks, is identified and recorded – so explore but remember to return rocks to where you found them.

Have fun!