Guest Post Written by: Aspen Cook, Laboratory Technician, Outreach Specialist, Environmental Health Department, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida
The Beach Conditions Reporting System, or BCRS, is a website (www.visitbeaches.org) and accompanying mobile app developed by Mote Marine Laboratory. The BCRS currently collects and disperses beach conditions from 37 locations along the gulf coast of Florida; however, Mote is working to expand this system to other areas both in and out of Florida. The BCRS is completely dependent on a network of dedicated volunteers who submit reports twice daily, 5-7 day per week. BCRS reports include parameters such as flag color, water surface temperature, wind speed and direction, surf type, wave height, crowds, debris, etc., as well as parameters for dead fish and respiratory irritation associated with Florida red tide. As the BCRS expands to other locations (particularly areas that do not often experience Florida red tide), new reporting parameters will be added that are more specific to each area.
The BCRS has become a go-to for locals and tourists alike for checking the conditions at their local beach before making plans or heading out for any activities. The website alone drew over 1,000,000 individual users from around the world and over 4 million total page views during the 2018-2019 Florida red tide bloom. In addition to environmental conditions the BCRS also displays amenities such as picnic tables, playgrounds, barbecue grills, restrooms, etc., truly making it a one-stop-shop for any beachgoer.
Not only does this program aid the public in making informed decisions that can both protect their health and improve their overall beach experience, the information is shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for long term monitoring and potential forecasting efforts.
If you are interested in viewing BCRS reports, you can find them at www.visitbeaches.org or by downloading the BCRS app:
If you live or work on or near a beach or other coastal waterway and are interested in receiving more information about becoming a volunteer reporter for Mote Marine Laboratory’s Beach Conditions Reporting System, please send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.