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What Is Shoresearch?
The ShoreSearch project started in 2013 with the joint objectives of recording and monitoring the rich diversity of the marine shoreline of the Knysna Estuary and of engaging the public in participating as volunteers in the monitoring programme and learning about the Estuary.
It aims to answer the questions; what is living on or washed up on the marine intertidal shores of the Estuary, how does it compare with what was recorded in the past and how is it changing now. The answers to these questions will help SANParks and the Municipality in their endeavours to preserve and protect the Estuary and contribute to the public’s awareness of its importance.
The project is led by Frances Smith, a graduate from Oxford University, England, and assisted by Peter Smith. The surveys are carried out with the help of volunteers from the general public who are given appropriate training to become ‘citizen scientists’. Engagement with the public started in 2012 with the publication of the booklet ‘A Brief Field Guide to The Common Shore Creatures of the Knysna Estuary’ by Frances and Peter Smith. The inspiration for ShoreSearch came from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in England; Frances and Peter had taken part in Shoresearches organised by them along the coast of the Solent and have (cheekily) adopted their model and name which is ideally suitable for the Knysna estuary. For information on their projects, do visit www.hiwwt.org.uk
The documented information we collect will enable us to create a base line of data on the diversity and number of species that live on the Estuary’s shores now. By comparing it to the pioneering work led by Professor John Day in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and the surveys carried out by Professor Brian Allanson in 2000 we will be able to show what has changed over the last 60 years. Ongoing monitoring will enable us to document changes as they occur in the future.
The survey will focus on what is visible on the surface of the intertidal zone and will add data to the body of current research and understanding of the Estuary. Current research includes studies by Knysna Basin Project and researchers from Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, the University of Cambridge, England and the University of Jena, Germany.
Where and When Do We Survey?
We have established 14 sites around the Estuary from the Heads to the Point, including Leisure Isle, and on the western shore from Belvidere to Featherbed Bay. These cover a range of habitats or biota including rock pools, rocky shores, sand, mud, eelgrass and saltmarsh.
Our survey season runs from early October to end April. Surveys are always done close to spring low tide so as much of the shore is exposed as possible. It is hoped that our volunteers will continue surveys during the winter months May to September.