CoastSnap beach monitoring

Becoming a beach scientist is a snap. Share your photos from iconic beaches to help us better understand and manage our dynamic coast.

The next time you visit a NSW beach, why not become a scientist for the day by helping us measure how our beaches change over time?

With your mobile device and our CoastSnap photo cradles, you can capture a valuable record of the beach state, and share it with us via social media or email. Using your snaps, we are building a community database that provides new insights on beach response to changing weather and wave conditions, and extreme storms. Over time, your CoastSnaps will record erosion and recovery cycles, and any long-term changes, helping us understand why some beaches are more dynamic or resilient than others.

Your snaps will help to improve the way local communities and governments manage our valuable beach environments.

Help us monitor beaches

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Water Research Laboratory (UNSW Sydney) have teamed up to develop CoastSnap - an innovative community beach monitoring program that enables you to help us monitor change on NSW beaches.

We have developed smart-phone cradles, so all you need to do is take a snap at one of our locations, and share it with us. By controlling the position and angle of your phone camera, we can measure the changing beach width and shape, and movement of the shoreline, to discover how each beach responds to changing ocean conditions.

Coastsnap community beach monitoring sign

How to get CoastSnapping

Visit a CoastSnap photo point with your mobile device and follow these simple steps:

  1. Place your mobile device in the CoastSnap cradle, with the camera facing through the gap in the cradle and the screen facing you. This is important, if you don't place your phone in the cradle we can't use your snap.
  2. Push your mobile device up against the left side of the phone cradle.
  3. Take a standard photo with your mobile device camera, without using zoom or filters.
  4. Carefully remove your mobile device from the phone cradle.
  5. Share or submit your CoastSnap photo so that we can measure the beach:

Important: If you share your photo on social media other users will be able to see it. You can always choose to submit by email if you don't want to share your photo publicly.

Too much to remember? Don't worry – we have instructions at each photo point, that tell you how to capture and share your snap. Just look out for the CoastSnap sign.

Find a CoastSnap photo point

We are constantly working to expand our network of CoastSnap photo points along the NSW coast. Use the map below to find a photo point near you.

Cape Byron Photo Point

Cape Byron (Tallow Beach)

Find the CoastSnap photo point beside Lighthouse Road on the southern side of Cape Byron overlooking Tallow Beach.

Stockton Beach

Stockton Beach

Find two CoastSnap photo points at the northern and southern ends of the Mitchell Street sea wall, and a third CoastSnap photo point in front of the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club amenities block.

View along Blacksmith's Beach, Coastsnap site

Blacksmiths Beach

Find the CoastSnap photo point on the northern breakwall of Swansea Channel.  You can access the breakwall from Blacksmiths Beach or by the shared pathway starting at Grannies Pool car park.

North Narrabeen Beach

North Narrabeen Beach

Find the CoastSnap photo point in Narrabeen Head Reserve on the northern side of the entrance to Narrabeen Lagoon. You can access the reserve by the stairs from the car park next to the North Narrabeen lagoon entrance, or from the trail from Peal Place.

Manly Beach (South Steyne)

Manly Beach (South Steyne)

Find the CoastSnap photo point at the northern end of Reddall Street, above Manly Life Saving Club. You can access Reddall Street from the stairs from Marine Parade.

CoastSnap Tomakin Cove

Tomakin Cove

Find the CoastSnap photo point at the end of the access trail to the northern end of the beach from Red Hill Parade.

CoastSnap Broulee Head

Broulee Head

Find the CoastSnap photo point at Broulee Lookout high above Broulee Head. Access to Broulee Lookout is via Wirrunna Street.


Our beaches are constantly changing

The amount of sand on the beach that you walk on, and under the water where the waves are breaking, is constantly changing. The distribution of sand changes as surf zone sand bars migrate in and out, and change shape, in response to changing wave conditions and tide levels. During large waves, sand may be removed from the beach by waves and scattered offshore, leaving the beach in an eroded state. Over time, the sand usually moves back onto the beach during calmer waves. These erosion and recovery cycles are different for each beach, depending on its unique shape and exposure to ocean waves.

We use your CoastSnap photos to map how the beach changes over time, and discover how different beaches respond to constantly changing ocean conditions. We create movies and time-lapse images to visualise the change in the shoreline and the size and distribution of surf zone bars and rips.

CoastSnap data provides a valuable record of the movement of sand between the exposed and submersed parts of the beach system. Coastal researchers and managers can use that data to investigate how much the beach might change during extreme conditions, or in response to the long-term effects of climate change such as sea level rise.

See how our beaches change through time by visiting the CoastSnap Facebook page.

CoastSnap goes global

From humble beginnings on Sydney's northern beaches, CoastSnap is expanding around the Australian coastline and is now a global phenomenon through our partner networks overseas.

To find out how communities around the world are monitoring their beaches using CoastSnap, just search for 'CoastSnap' on Facebook or Instagram. You can follow the CoastSnap Facebook page to receive updates from the global CoastSnap network.