Citizen science


It makes science more socially relevant. It accelerates and enables production of new scientific knowledge, and increases public awareness about science and ownership of policy making. Citizen science is still predominantly associated with terrestrial projects, and that’s why LifeWatch-Belgium has a special focus on monitoring coastal and marine biodiversity.  

Organisms of interest

Shells & mollusks
  • Bats
  • Plankton
  • shell
    Shells & mollusks
  • Insects
  • env measurements
    Environmental monitoring
  • marine mammals
    Marine mammals

Organisms of interest

Although citizen science as a format is not new at all, it is definitely on the rise as a proper tool to support both scientific output and public awareness. By building a ‘community’ of researchers and citizens, a more integrative way of conducting research is being achieved. LifeWatch Belgium (VLIZ) has inspired, trained and consolidated a group of 80-100 citizens at the coast, who are now conducting the ‘SeaWatch-B’ surveys, and actively supports the annual ‘Big Seashell Survey’. Shells, fish, crustaceans, jellyfish and other bottom-dwelling animals are the target organisms in these LifeWatch coastal citizen science projects. 

Citizens can be very useful for the management of invasive species. In the Vespa-Watch project, citizens can report their sightings of nests of the invasive Asian hornet (Vespa velutina). Also, citizen scientists can help manage the large amount of sensors within the LifeWatch network. In the camera trap network, some camera traps are assigned to volunteers that check the status of the camera, replace SD-cards and upload the images to Agouti every month. Another type of citizen science tasks include the identification of species, e.g. on the camera trap images that are uploaded on Agouti.  



foto1_SeaWatchen_EugeenDeHondt_MG_3065_0.JPG (2.57 MB)

The major infrastructural help to the SeaWatchers and the citizens participating in the Big Annual Seashell Surveys, comes from the app ‘ObsIdentify’, developed by Natuurpunt (a partner in the Big Annual Seashell Survey). Additionally, for both programs pictures are required in order to test for data quality by experts.  

On the camera trap platform Agouti, citizens can also offer their help to annotate images on the platform after registering to a certain project. 

Spatial coverage

 Both ‘SeaWatch-B’ and the ‘Big Seashell Survey’ cover the entire Belgian coastline (beach and shallow water). The first initiative has twenty citizens (‘SeaWatchers’), each of them monitoring a fixed stretch of beach on a seasonal basis. During the one day event ‘Big Seashell Survey’, the wider public is welcomed at ten stations (one for each coastal municipality).  


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