Citizen Science: Coastal Walkabout

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Coastal Walkabout: What is this all about?

Coastal Walkabout is an open access, dynamic, citizen science initiative which utilises smart phone technology and social media to engage and motivate local communities to gather scientific observations within the coastal, estuarine and near-shore environments.

Ever wanted to record and share an observation you’ve had of an animal encountered in its natural environment such that it can be used towards science and management? Well, now you can! Whether it is a dolphin, whale, dugong, shark, ray, turtle or seabird you can now easily keep track of and contribute your observations by using the user-friendly, freely available smart-phone Coastal Walkabout “apps”. This new tool will allow you to capture photographic (or video) records of your wildlife encounters while simultaneously and automatically recording your observation location (GPS) and time. Your records will be automatically uploaded into a real time mapping system on a dedicated website via the use of the smart-phone apps. Apps will be available for iPhone and Android phones/tablets in October/November 2013.

This is a preliminary webpage developed with the purpose of introducing Coastal Walkabout as a new citizen science project. We will be launching the project in October/November 2013.

CW iPhone

The Coastal Walkabout app is iPhone and Android compatible


Coastal Walkabout is an innovative project that utilises two-way traffic of communication, interaction and feedback. The project provides user-friendly tools to community groups, fishers, tourists, divers, resource sector employees, scientists, local residences and educational organisations, to engage and contribute to the science and management of marine, estuarine and near-shore wildlife species. The project gives you the power to contribute and share your observations with the public, scientists and wildlife managers and enables you to share the beauty and uniqueness of the vast natural environment. Coastal Walkabout aims to provide you with tools that enable you to make a difference and contribute to the scientific knowledge of the richness and splendour of the Western Australian coastline.


Photo credit: Alex Brown

Photo credit: Alex Brown

While Coastal Walkabout is being launched in Western Australia (October/November 2013), the opportunities for an observation project such as this one is limitless, with the potential to be scalable nationally and globally. Where the topics covered can be far reaching from bush fire management, to cane toad monitoring, to monitoring of community ecosystems.


Coastal Walkabout is a tool to communicate sound, scientific, anecdotal evidence to support current and proposed projects. Given the open access of the observed data, the project is seeking partners that will identify the benefit of participating in meaningful, social and interactive community led project with clear and measurable outputs and outcomes. Some easily identifiable benefits include:

  • Strong cause identification – community, education, science, environment, technology
  • Measurable participation data
    CW screenshots

    Main menu and recording screen-shots (from the Coastal Walkabout app)

  • Participation in community programs
  • Interaction with community and community led projects
  • Association with reputable, international Universities
  • Contribution to gathering important scientific and environmental data
  • Opportunities for employee engagement programs

Who is Involved

Coastal Walkabout is a collaboration between Murdoch University, Duke University and Marine Ventures Foundation. Initiated by Dr Thomas McMurray, Dr Dave Johnston and A/Prof Lars Bejder the project to date has been funded by Murdoch University and Marine Ventures Foundation. The smartphone app development has been developed with collaboration with GAIA Resources.

The success of Coastal Walkabout will be dependent on the capacity of the broader community, both public and private organisations, to participate in the development and implementation of the technology. To achieve this, the project group has commenced discussions with community groups, government departments, recreation groups, industry, educational bodies and the scientific community seeking their support in contributing into Coastal Walkabout.


Photo credit: Frazer Mcgregor

Photo credit: Frazer Mcgregor

Get Involved

Coastal Walkabout has been introduced into a few communities across the state of Western Australia. The project team’s current focus is to carefully develop and implement the project to ensure the maximum effect is achieved through a broad-bases uptake and participation on an ongoing basis. It is important to the project to engage with long term partners that will be appropriate, supportive and mutually beneficial for both the project and individual partners.

If this is something that your organisation wants to take time to explore with us, we would like to engage with you to explore the opportunity to develop a collaboration via the Coastal Walkabout endeavour. Please contact us on:

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