FAQ - Coast Watchers

 

** report questions are subject to change based on current environmental issues

Where Can I Find the Link to Access the App?

Here is the link to the Coast Watchers app: https://app.coastalcentre.ca/home . The app is not available in any app store and can ONLY be access by this link because it is a web-based app.

 

How Do I Become a Coast Watcher?

  1. Complete the online form at www.lakehuron.ca/coastwatchers

  2. Choose a consistent monitoring location and share the GPS coordinates with the program coordinator via email (coastwatchers@lakehuron.ca)

  3. Wait to be contacted by the Coast Watchers program coordinator with training information via email

  4. Watch the most current Coast Watcher training session

  5. Create an account on the Coast Watchers application (app)

  6. Start monitoring!

 

Who Do I Email if I Have a Question?

Please email the program coordinator at coastwatchers@lakehuron.ca

 

Why is My Report Pending?

Pending only means that the data hasn't been reviewed yet. Every report is reviewed before it is uploaded to the data set. If the data is obviously incorrect than the report can be rejected.

 

Why Can I Only Submit Numbers for Wind and Wave Direction?

The way the compass rose works is that the numbers on the inside of the compass correspond to a specific direction. The same applies to wave direction so there is no need to type the letters of the direction. For example, by submitting 90 as the wind direction, the project coordinator would automatically know it is East. If the wind was blowing directly from the North, it would be 0. Same process applies for wave direction. REMEMBER to always record the direction based on where the wind and waves originated from.

 

Can I Have a Kestrel and Pool Thermometer?

The Kestrel 2000 is waterproof and can be submerged in the lake to record water temperature. Therefore, you won't need a pool thermometer.

 

Google Maps is not Working on the App

Refresh the app using the rounded arrow. A box should pop up asking to enable your location while using the app. Click allow.

 

A message may pop up that says, “this page can’t load Google Maps correctly”. Click OK

 

To enable your location manually:

For apple products: Click Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> Safari Websites -> the click "while using the app". 

 

For android products: Swipe down from the top of the screen -> Touch and hold Location -> If you don't find Location -> Tap Edit  or Settings  -> Drag Location  into your Quick Settings.

 

PLEASE NOTE:  The map may look grey and have text "for development purposes only" that is because Google requires us to pay for the service of a full colour map, but it still functions the same. We are looking into getting this service so the map will look better for Coast Watchers. 

 

How Do I Find GPS Coordinates?

*Please send the GPS coordinates of your primary monitoring location to the program coordinator when you sign up*

  1. Open Google Maps

  2. Zoom in to your monitoring area

  3. Place your curser on your monitoring location and click

  4. The GPS coordinates will pop up at the bottom on your screen (ex. 43.744484, -81.726509)

 

How Do I Create a Coast Watchers Account?

If you are a new Coast Watcher: sign up by creating an account.

If you are an existing Coast Watcher: your email has already been important to our new system. ‘CW’ is the temporary password. Go to your account tab to change the temporary password.

 

Can This Count Towards High School Volunteer Hours?

Yes! Each report will count for ½ an hour towards your high school volunteer hours. Email your hours sheet to the program coordinator at coastwatchers@lakehuron.ca to be filled out and signed.

 

Do I Need Experience to Become a Coast Watcher?

No experience is needed but training is required. All training sessions are recorded and posted training page of our website and the Coastal Centre YouTube account

 

What Will I Be Reporting On?

Atmospheric conditions, plastic, wildlife/species at risk, algae, human activities, and storm damage on Lake Huron.

 

How Long Does It Take to Monitor?

We are looking for a snapshot of what’s happening on the Lake. It should only take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete.

 

When Should I Monitor?

The monitoring season is 26 weeks long from May 1 until October 31 every year. Coast Watchers commit to monitoring the same place once per week, ideally at the same time on the same weekday. Consistency is important to keep the data consistent and un-biased, capturing all weather events and climactic conditions across the monitoring season. With increased data capacity due to the app, we can now accept submissions outside of the usual monitoring season. If you see something interesting, tell us!

 

Where Should I Monitor?

Pick a section of coast that is relevant for you. For example, if you are a cottage owner you can monitor the shoreline in front of your cottage; if you go to a public beach at least once-per-week you can select a point at that beach to monitor. Volunteers must choose a specific spot to monitor from for wind and wave data. Other observational data can be recorded from 15 meters on either side of the primary monitoring location (30 meters total). Although we ask that people stay consistent with their location, with the updated map feature you can submit photos and data from another location. For example, if you are vacationing at Sauble Beach and see Piping Plovers, we want to know about it!

 

Should I Submit Zeros?

In the past, we have encouraged the submission of zeros. Starting in 2022, we ask that Coast Watchers only report on what they see. For example, if there is no wildlife on the beach when you are monitoring, that wildlife report would be skipped on that day. Yet when you start a report, all questions that have a star (*) beside it must be filled out.

 

Do I Need Equipment?

New volunteers are asked to print the Compass Rose (used to measure wind direction) from the Coast Watchers training page of the LHCC website. The Beaufort Scale (used to measure wave height) can be accessed through the app. To record windspeed, air, and water temperature, volunteers must be equipped with a water thermometer and/or Kestrel (a sensitive impeller used to report wind speed, air, and water temperature). Volunteers that are interested in using a Kestrel must pay a $25 equipment deposit fee through the LHCC website store. Considering the potential increase in the number of volunteers this season, the LHCC will not be able to equip every Coast Watcher a Kestrel. Once the equipment is returned in good condition, the deposit will be fully refunded to the volunteer and the inventory will be updated on our website store for the next volunteer to purchase.

If you do not have access to a thermometer or Kestrel please leave the questions blank.

 

I Don’t Have Service at My Monitoring Location. Can I Still Submit My Report?

No. You must have service to submit a report in the field. Incase service is lost, bring a backup field sheet to record report questions. The data can be submitted in the app when you get home. Make sure to drag the pin on your map from your current location to your monitoring. You can also change your submission time to when the report was taken.

 

How is Coast Watchers Data Used?

Data collected in the Coast Watcher program will be shared with environmental groups that work specifically on Lake Huron related environmental issues.

 

What does the ‘*’ beside the report questions mean?

The * represents what questions are mandatory to answer once you have started that report.

How do I submit data?

Field sheets that have previously completed on paper have been adapted to online reports that are submitted through the app:

If you DO have access to a mobile phone, tablet or computer:

  • Record and submit all data and photos through the Coast Watchers app

If you do NOT have a mobile phone, tablet or computer:

  • You can mail your completed physical field sheets at the end of each month to the LHCC mailbox: P.O Box 477, Goderich, ON. N7A 4C7

 

How Do I Submit Consent Forms?

Consent forms (liability and information release) are now included in the process of creating a Coast Watchers account.

 

What is a Coast Watcher ID and Where Can I Find Mine?

Coast Watchers IDs are used to uphold the privacy of volunteers when talking about their data in public reports. Volunteers can also use this ID when communicating to the program coordinator through email or over the phone if they’d prefer to remain anonymous.

Once an account is created on the Coast Watchers app, each Coast Watcher is assigned a NEW Coast Watcher ID. Existing Coast Watchers that already have a Coast Watcher ID will be replaced with a new number. You can view your new Coast Watcher ID on the account page of the app.

 

How Do I Access Coast Watcher Data?

Our yearly coast watcher report provides a summary of findings from past season and can be found at www.lakehuron.ca/coastwatchers. If you would like partner with the Coast Watchers Program, send an email with the name and description of your organization or research project to coastwater@lakehuron.ca