Help and FAQ

Please find answers to some commonly asked questions below. Click on each question to reveal the answer. If you are having technical problems or a question that is not answered here please email the Big Seaweed Watch team at

The Big Seaweed Search guide includes instructions on how to take part and an identification guide for the 14 seaweeds we are asking you to record. There is also a recording form where you can write down your observations and other important information about your survey site. You can download and print your own guide and recording form from these links:

Big Seaweed Search guide PDF (3.3MB)

Recording form PDF (69KB)

If you require a printed version of the identification guide and recording form please email with your name, address and how many you require.The Natural History Museum has now re-opened but we have limited capacity to post hard copies of the Big Seaweed Search survey pack, so there may be a wait.

Yes! Just let the Big Seaweed Search team know how many you require when you request a hard copy pack from 

Providing that the seaweed can by positively identified (or ‘verified’), then your photo and the additional information that you upload will form a ‘biological record’. A biological record must contain four essential pieces of information: what was found, where it was found, when it was found and who found it. This is why we ask you for your name; it ensures that your seaweed sighting can contribute to our shared understanding of the UK’s seaweeds for decades to come.

We ask for your email address so that we have contact details associated with your observation. You will only be contacted if an expert from the Natural History Museum wishes to find out more about your observation, for example to learn more about where you found it, if it is an exciting or unexpected find.

If you agree (by ticking the opt-in boxes when you enter your survey results), we will also use your email to let you know about other citizen science projects and marine activities that are taking place. You can stop receiving this information at any time by emailing

All data, including personal data, are stored in the Biological Records Centre's Data Warehouse in accordance with Data Protection Regulations and will only be used by the Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society for the above purposes. You can access the Museum's full privacy statement here

You can do the survey as many times as you like! Repeat surveys are welcome but if you are only able to visit an area of coast once that is valuable too. 

You can carry out the survey at any coast in the UK. All shores are important for the research, but we are asking you to record seaweeds that are attached, so we suggest you visit shores with hard structures such as rocks, sea walls and piers. 

No! We welcome surveys from those who live by the coast and from those visiting on day trips or holidays. 

The recording form only includes the 14 target species, but you are welcome to mention others you find in the comments box when you submit. If you would like to submit records for species not on the recording form this can be done using iRecord

After your survey is submitted members of the Big Seaweed Search team review your photographs and accept your records if the seaweed identifications are correct. Once accepted your data will be available on the Explore the Data page. Registering before you submit results will allow you to review your results and see if your identifications were correct.  Researchers will use your seaweed observations to monitor the health and changes of our coasts. Keep visiting the Results page for updates. 

The Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society are committed to open access and open science - an approach which maximises the use and impact of the environmental observations you collect.

We will use your observations for research purposes, and they will be made openly available so that anyone can explore, download and reuse the data for their own research.

Your data will be shared using a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which means that anyone can use the data but they must credit where it came from. 

When you enter your observations and photos on this website, you are saying that: 

(a)  the content is yours, or you have the permission of the owner to agree to this usage, and

(b) you agree that the content can be used on this site, and

(c) you agree that your wildlife observations can be made publicly available for wider use.

All data, including environmental observations, personal and demographic data, are stored in the Biological Records Centre's Data Warehouse in accordance with Data Protection Regulations.  From there they will be made available to the Natural History Museum, Marine Conservation Society, all National Recording Schemes and Societies and all Local Environmental Record Centres. Ultimately they will be passed on to the National Biodiversity Network Atlas - the data holding for all wildlife observations in the UK. The Big Seaweed Search dataset will also be made available via the Natural History Museum's Data Portal where we share all our collections and research data. Your name will be stored as part of the biological record and may be made publicly available along with the species name, date and location of the record. Your contact details and any demographic information you may have given (age, ethnicity, etc) will NOT be shared in this way.

Your contact details and any demographic data you entered will be held in the Biological Records Centre's Data Warehouse and will be made available to the Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society, but will not be passed on to any third parties without your permission. Demographic data are stored anonymously, separate to any other data you entered.

Sharing wildlife records in this way ensures they are as useful as possible, both for research and for decision making about protecting the natural environment, so thank you for supporting us in this endeavour.

You can access the Museum's full privacy statement here.

The Big Seaweed Search is a long-term survey, and you can take part at any time as many times as you wish. 

Registration is optional but allows you to review and download your own results on future visits. Registering before you submit results also allows you to review your results and see if your identifications were correct. 

You can reset your password as follows: under the login menu, select the ‘Request new password’ tab, enter your Big Seaweed Search username or email address, complete the CAPTCHA and select the blue ‘E-mail new password’ button. You will receive an email to reset your password, check your junk email box if it is not received in a couple of hours. If you do not receive the email, please message for further assistance.