Citizen scientists examine shells on the Flemish beaches | Flanders Marine Institute

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Citizen scientists examine shells on the Flemish beaches

Ostend (2018.03.08) - On Saturday 17 March, a Big Shell Counting Day will take place in Belgium for the first time. Scientists call on everyone to come to the beach that day and to help map the biodiversity our coast.

Press release by: Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), EOS, Natuurpunt and Kusterfgoed

The Big Shell Counting Day is an initiative by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the popular scientific magazine EOS, the environmental organisation Natuurpunt and the heritage institute Kusterfgoed, with the support from BePlanet and Elia. In the ten coastal municipalities along the Flemish coast, experts receive enthusiast citizens to explore the shells on the beach. Each participant collects a hundred shells and identifies the species involved with the help of the experts and a shell identification card. The data are transferred to a database so that the researchers can get started to examine the patterns in biodiversity. Children can come along to collect shells, or follow a workshop on 'how to make a paper beach flower' (only in Blankenberge or Ostend). In De Panne there is an extra shell activity for children, Bredene exceptionally opens the shell collection of the local history club Ter Cuere to the public and in the nature reserve Zwin a guide shares his knowledge on shells with the audience.

Where to go to in each municipality?

  • Knokke-Heist: building Schildia Beach
  • Zeebrugge: building rescue service
  • Blankenberge: building/tent beach rescue service
  • De Haan: tent near beach rescue service
  • Bredene: building of beach rescue service post 6
  • Ostend: Marine Station Ostend (Oosteroever)
  • Middelkerke: building Red Cross at beach Casino East
  • Nieuwpoort: building sea dyke/beach near Barkentijn
  • Koksijde: beach east end sea dyke
  • De Panne: tent near monument Leopold I

The organizers are looking forward to the results of this new citizen science initiative. Currently, no one keeps track of the species and numbers of shells that wash ashore at the Belgian coast. However, beached shells can say a great deal about climate change, environmental pollution and chnages in biodiversity. What species are common, and what species are rare? Are there exotics species present? Are there differences between the West and the East coast? And what species may be crowned as the absolute topdog?

The results of the Big Shell Counting Day will give the experts a better view on the diversity of shells along the Belgian coast. The results will be announced via a press release on Monday 19 March.

Registration for the Big Shell Counting Day in one of the ten locations is free via the website (in Dutch only)

More information

More information on the website
Pictures are available upon request.

Press contact

Jan Seys (VLIZ): - +3-(0)478-37 64 13