What is CoastSnap?


CoastSnap is a global “Citizen Science” project that aims to engage citizens to participate in scientific research on the accretion and erosion of various beaches. For this purpose, the project provides specially designed holders at fixed “CoastSnap locations” where passers-by can place their smartphones in to take a picture of the beach. All of these photos will be collected in one large set, which will be used by researchers to map the growth of the beach. There are two stations along the Belgian coastline, located in Ostend and Koksijde. The beaches on this location are subject to many factors that affect accretion, and CoastSnap can contribute to a better understanding of how exactly the beach responds to all those influences.



Community Survey


CoastSnap is built on contributions made by the local community. Therefore, the project also aims to map the interests and perception of that community concerning the beach and its morphology. Below is a small survey on this topic, with an added option at the end to leave a mail address by which users can keep informed on future proceedings of the project.


What is the aim of your visit at the beach?
Do you know that the beach and the dunes protect the coastal hinterland from flooding?
Do you know that some beaches suffer from erosion, i.e. they lose sand due to wind, wave and/or tide?
Have you ever noticed coastal erosion in this area?
How do you like the appearance of this beach? (1 = most negative, 5 = most positive)

General Data Protection Regulation


You have the right to withdraw your consent at any given time, although this will not affect the lawfulness of processing based on your given consent prior withdrawal.

You have a legal right to request access, correction and deletion of your personal information (this includes photo and video).

You also have the right to restrict the processing of your personal information.

Belgian stations

Wondering where the Belgian CoastSnap stations are located? The map below shows where stations are operational (brown) or planned (blue) along the Belgian Coast. Click the icon to get more information on there precise location:

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How to use CoastSnap?


 Holder + Mobile

Place your mobile in the holder, against the leftmost edge. Make sure your mobile's camera can see through the gap, and the screen faces towards you. Placing the device correcty is extremely important, otherwise your picture will not be usable in the researcher's analysis.



When the mobile is positioned correctly, take a picture of the beach. Do not use any zoom or filter functionality!


 Share your picture with us through social media!

Use the appropriate hashtag (e.g. #CoastSnapOostende), or send an email to coastsnap@vliz.be. This way, we can add your picture to the set that is going to be analyzed in the future. Please make sure that you mention the date and time on which the picture was taken!


More info about the project

Help monitor the beaches

Research on the progress or decline of beaches I nothing new, also not in Belgium. Already there are several methodologies that use cameras and other remote sensing technologies. However, these setups not only require significant funding, but also ongoing maintenance and the technical knowledge to set them up. CoastSnap wants to eliminate this by using the local community and the present tourism to capture the same images. The only installation necessary is a holder for smartphones that ensures that all pictures are taken from the same angle and position.

The participation of passers-by at the station is of great importance. The more people take a photo and share it with the project, the larger the data set that will be used, and the better researchers can map the changes on the beach.

Belgian beaches keep constantly changing

Anyone who walks along the beaches has certainly noticed: our beaches are constantly evolving under the influence of the seasons, sea currents and human interventions. They are built up during the summer and decrease again in the winter, in the latter case often by storms that cause the so-called ‘beach cliffs’. On top of this, human constructions have an additional influence on them. For instance, the beach at Oostende Oosteroever, where the first Belgian CoastSnap station is located, is strongly influenced by the nearby harbor walls and the presence of a dike over the entire width of the beach. This beach section, and many others along the Belgian coast, are therefore artificially re-injected to compensate these effects.

In order to be able to map how all this affects our beaches, or how we can make our beaches more resistant to it, scientists would like to study the evolutions. A series of images showing exactly the same part of the beach can be used by researchers to calculate, for example, the location of the low tide line, or to study the formation of beach cliffs.



If you have further interest in a specific CoastSnap station, the project, or a station of your own, please contact us!

E-mail: coastsnap@vliz.be
Adres:  Jacobsenstraat 1, 8400 Oostende
Tel. nr: +32-(0)59-34 21 30 

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International Coastsnap stations


CoastSnap is a global project, conceived and founded by Dr Mitchell Harley of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. The first CoastSnap station was installed there in 2017. Since then, in addition to Australia, several other countries have joined the CoastSnap story. There are currently about 76 stations active all over the world, from Madagascar to Brazil to Spain, England and the United States. Currently an international platform is being developed on which all these stations can be gathered, and the representatives of the different stations try to meet annually to exchange ideas and experiences.


The map below indicates the location of some international CoastSnap stations. By clicking on an icon, a popup shows more information about the specific station:


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