New Scottish seashell survey launched

Friday 2nd May 2014

Searching for seashells on the seashore

Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust are hoping to encourage people to make a day-trip to the beach to take part in the Scottish Seashell Survey.

The Scottish Seashell Survey is a new citizen science project funded by Scottish Natural Heritage that will encourage members of the public to record molluscs and other seashore creatures they find around the coast.  This information will be used to help improve knowledge of the distribution of a variety of species found around our shores, and help monitor the spread of invasive alien species such as the Slipper limpet (Crepidula fornicata).

The launch of the survey coincides with Keep Scotland Beautiful’s ‘Clean Coast Week’ which aims to encourage everyone to take responsibility for keeping our coasts free from litter and pollution.  The Scottish coastline consists of thousands of miles of rocky shores, sandy beaches and pebble-covered bays and hosts an amazing range of species.  However, our beaches are under threat from littering, pollution and habitat destruction.

Mark Bevan, Head of Campaigns at Keeep Scotland Beautiful said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Scottish Seashell Survey which has been launched this year by Buglife, because we know that one of the best ways to encourage respect for the environment, is to learn about the wildlife which often suffers as a result of our behaviour.  Let’s Clean Up our coastline so we and many others can enjoy them this summer whilst out surveying our shells.”

Marine and coastal species are increasingly threatened by the accumulation of plastic and other non-biodegradable waste in our seas and oceans.  Recent studies in the Clyde have revealed small plastic particles in many marine species including sandhoppers and langustines, which have likely mistaken the fragments for food.

Other issues affecting coastal species include the removal of seaweed and strandline floatsum during mechanical beach cleaning, which destroys habitat required by a variety of specalist invertebrates.

Dr Scott Shanks, Conservation Officer (Scotland) at Buglife said: “The survey will hopefully collect valuable information on the changing distributions of coastal species, identify biodiversity hot-spots and help to promote the importance of keeping our beaches and shoreline plastic and pollution-free.” Queen Scallop © Rebecca Cairns

How to take part…

  1. 1. Download the free seashell identification guide and survey sheet from
  2. 2. Record the seashore species that you see the next time you visit the coast.
  3. 3. Submit you sighting online (along with a photograph if possible) to the same webpage