5. Conducting a Survey (accumulation): Tutorial 5 discusses how to prepare for and conduct an accumulation survey.
Conducting a Survey (accumulation) Transcript
• This accumulation survey overview is the fifth of six brief tutorials to guide you through everything you need to know about the MDMAP before getting started. In this presentation, we will discuss how to prepare for and conduct an accumulation survey.
• Before any sampling begins, visit each site to complete the shoreline characterization datasheet. This datasheet should be updated once per year to record any changes at your site. We’ll start with the first page of the site characterization datasheet. The first step is to create a shoreline name, which will remain the same throughout your study and will be used to identify your site in the MDMAP database. The MDMAP site name should include any local park or beach names, for example “Ocean City Mile 20” or “Main Beach South”. An essential step is to record the GPS coordinates of the beginning and end locations of your shoreline site. You can use a handheld GPS unit, a smart phone, or as a last resort, an online mapping tool to get your coordinates. The MDMAP only accepts GPS coordinates recorded in units of decimal degrees. Refer to the FAQs section of the Get Started Toolbox if you have questions about GPS units. If your shoreline width from the water’s edge to the back barrier is greater than 6 meters, GPS coordinates must be recorded at all four corners of the site, denoted by the red dots in the figure shown here. If your beach is less than 6 meters wide, you only need to record two coordinates, at the midpoint of the beginning and end locations of the shoreline site, denoted by the yellow dots in the figure shown here. Take photos of the shoreline while completing your site characterization, and upload them to the MDMAP database. This is explained in more detail in the Data Entry tutorial. The bottom half of the first page of the site characterization datasheet asks for other shoreline characteristics. This includes the shoreline length, which is usually 100 m, slope, substrate, and tides. Refer to the Get Started Toolbox FAQs if you have questions about how to determine the shoreline characteristics.
• The second page of the site characterization datasheet asks about the surrounding area and land use. Nearby river or drain outfalls, the distance to the nearest town, and other land use characteristics can all affect the types and abundances of debris at your shoreline site. Online mapping tools may come in handy for finding some of this information. There is space at the bottom of the page to record notes on landmarks, local current patterns, or to draw a map depicting site access or a shoreline profile.
• In addition to following all of the pre-survey safety checks explained in the safety tutorial, make sure you have all required equipment. This includes a measuring tape or wheel, survey flags, a bucket or bag, clipboards and pencils, a ruler, a GPS unit, camera, first aid kit, water and a snack, and a printed copy of the accumulation survey debris datasheet. Review the survey debris datasheet before leaving home.
• Download and print Accumulation Survey Quick Reference Field Guide from the Get Started Toolbox Protocol Documents and Field Datasheets section. It is a great resource to refer to while preparing for your surveys.
• Use the GPS units from your site characterization to navigate to your site starting point, and use flags and the surveyor’s measuring wheel to mark the boundaries of the 100-m site. Use as many flags as needed, usually at least three on each side, to identify the site boundary between the water’s edge and the back of the beach. Complete the ancillary information on the first page of your datasheet. Just like you did for the site characterization, record GPS coordinates at the start and end of the shoreline site. This will be at both the back of the beach and at the water’s edge, or only one coordinate in the middle of the site if the shoreline is less than 6 meters wide. It may seem repetitive, but it’s important to have a record that you return to the exact same shoreline site at each visit. Now you are ready to search the site for debris items. Remember that debris is tallied and removed from the shoreline during accumulation surveys. Use a walking pattern that works best for you, for example starting at the water’s edge and walking along parallel lines toward the back of the beach. Walking pattern diagrams are provided in the shoreline survey field guide. It’s best to tally items on the datasheet as you go, rather than collect items and tally them at the end of the survey. Debris items can be brittle and break apart into multiple pieces while transported in a bag or bucket. After you’ve covered the entire area, record the time at the end of the survey and any notes about evidence of cleanups, any sampling issues, or information about photographs you’ve taken.
• It’s really important to remember that MDMAP shoreline surveys are only for items larger than 2.5 cm in the longest dimension. The 2.5 cm size cutoff is about the size of a bottle cap. This is used as a standard metric across the MDMAP because it can be reliably detected with the human eye. For consistency and data standardization, all MDMAP survey teams must follow this rule. All debris items larger than 1 foot are tallied separately in the large debris items section on the third page of the survey datasheet.
• It’s not uncommon to find items that you aren’t sure how to record. Make sure to record descriptions of items tallied under the “other” field of the datasheet. Do this while you’re still in the field so it is as accurate as possible. You might find over time that certain items continue to appear, and careful notes will help you to know which items are more common than others. Photos are also really helpful. If you can’t identify an item, or don’t know where it should be recorded, take a photo, record a description, and search the photo ID gallery in the Get Started Toolbox when you return home.