Test Design Lighthouse

Beachexplorer – what you can find on the beach

From a mussel via crab shells to a rubber glove – there is an awful lot washed up by the North Sea and too little is still known about these discoveries. This gap in knowledge is to be filled by the new Beachexplorer Internet portal, which is expected go live in March 2014.


A report by Rainer Borcherding


Schutzstation Wattenmeer and the Lighthouse Foundation have worked intensively on the design of their joint Internet portal in 2013. The Beachexplorer offers a new type of digital criteria to help determine over 1,000 different types of beach finds. With just a few clicks it is possible to classify and identify all kinds of natural beach finds and also marine litter. There are profiles and background information on each beach find. In addition, the portal offers the opportunity to report the finds in a database. In this way it will be able to be determined where and what things were washed up and whether the frequency changes with the climate or marine protection measures.


The idea for the Beachexplorer project has existed since 2006 when it came about at a meeting of the Wadden Sea Education Centres in Holland. However, the idea was ahead of its time. Only with the spread of Smartphones and the success of similar projects on land, e.g. Ornitho.de and naturgucker.de, was project sponsorship finally achieved in 2012 from Federal funds. The German Federal Environment Ministry has now been sponsoring Beachexplorer from the Federal Biological Diversity Programme for over two years. The programming of the website and an app were put out to tender and since then there has been lots of typing and texting behind the scenes.


The identification key, which is intended to make it possible for both beginners as well as experienced beachcombers to identify as many types of animal, plant and beach litter as possible, has been tested since November. In contrast to normal identification books, the key offers up to nine photos in each case of various beach finds next to each other, one of which is selected and clicked on. At the next level there are again nine categories to select, and after no later than seven clicks the final destination will definitely have been reached. There a species fact file opens up, displaying the frequency, distribution and way of life of each species in an abbreviated form. By the end of the project longer species fact files are to be available that will provide more extensive information in each case. All this is also to be offered in English, Danish and Dutch because the North Sea’s nature knows no borders. The Beachexplorer is also intended to be used from the other Wadden Sea countries and by a worldwide audience.


The database of the finds, which will be programmed in 2014 as the last part of the project, will make it possible to report all types of finds, both via an app from the beach itself as well as from at home via a PC or tablet. The naturgucker.de project, with which Beachexplorer is cooperating, has already collected over four million reports of finds of animals and plants on land within a few years. Both portals working together are intended to make beach holidaymakers aware of the idea of natural history with the help of the Internet. Anyone who enjoys Beachexplorer, can later continue with “naturgucker” on land.


The web start of Beachexplorer – initially still without the database of finds, but with an identification option and species fact files – is to take place in March 2014: www.beachexplorer.org



Project partner:

Schutzstation Wattenmeer

Ha­fen­stra­ße 3

25813 Hu­sum


Project website:




Report 2013