Pete Topping, Peconic Baykeeper's executive director, recently demonstrated how to...

Pete Topping, Peconic Baykeeper's executive director, recently demonstrated how to participate in a new community science initiative that aims to document coastal change in the Peconic Estuary.  Credit: John Roca

Calling all citizen scientists: Peconic Baykeeper wants your help documenting coastal changes and rising sea levels on the East End  — and all you need is your cellphone.

The Hampton Bays-based environmental organization recently unveiled a multiyear, community-based initiative to visually record coastal changes in the Peconic Estuary — which includes all the bays and waterways between Long Island's North and South forks. It spans more than 125,000 acres of land and 158,000 acres of surface water, according to Suffolk County officials.

At 15 designated photo stations from Riverhead to Montauk, volunteers can use their cellphones to capture images of harbors, bays and creeks and email them to a specified address before the photos are put into a time-lapse slideshow through the website Chronolog.

Pete Topping, executive director of Peconic Baykeeper, said the nonprofit's goal is to consistently gather photos at the sites over several years to illustrate the changing environment.

Called Project RISE, which stands for Recording Inundation Surrounding the Estuary, the community science project also aims to highlight “some of the most beautiful publicly accessible places remaining in the Peconic Estuary” and create “a connection with the community,” Topping said.

Peconic Estuary Partnership, a Riverhead-based nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore the estuary, awarded a $24,000 grant to Peconic Baykeeper to fund the project for five years. The grant covered acquiring the materials and using Chronolog's website, Topping said.

Joyce Novak, the partnership's executive director, said the project will create a “robust record” of what’s happening at each of the 15 sites. 

“It’s just a really good example of things that we call 'citizen science,' ” she said. “People out there getting involved, loving their environment and with something as simple as their phone.”

At the photo station at Elizabeth Alexandra Morton National Wildlife Refuge site near Sag Harbor, volunteers submitted 11 photos from May 9 to 27, officials said.

Sea levels around Long Island are expected to increase by 13 to 25 inches in the next 25 years, Newsday recently reported in an examination of how rising seas could reshape coastlines.

Recently, Topping demonstrated from one of the photos stations how volunteers can take part in the community science initiative.

At Conscience Point in North Sea, he placed his cellphone horizontally into a bracket set atop a wooden post before snapping a photo of North Sea Harbor. A sign affixed to a wooden post near the waterfront has instructions.

Topping emailed the photo to the address listed on the sign, with the subject line “PBK-111” to indicate the specific location. Within a few minutes, a confirmation email arrived in Topping's inbox. Submitting a photo doesn't require downloading an app or registering for a Chronolog account.

Chronolog's software screens all photos before publication, according to its website. Topping said he and other members of the environmental organization also can remove photos, which are visible shortly after volunteers upload them. He estimated it will take about five years to gather usable data and said he hopes the project can continue well beyond that timeline. 

Topping said his organization coordinated with several municipalities and organizations to get authorization to place the photo stations. For example, to put one at Conscience Point, the organization needed permission from Southampton History Museum, the property's owner.

Sarah Kautz, the museum's executive director, said the site was home to the Shinnecock Indian Nation for thousands of years when, in 1640, it was the landing site of the first English colonists who settled in Southampton.

Both benefited “from the productivity of the marsh-bordered land and harbor,” reads a museum sign at the location.

Kautz said the area can be prone to flooding, as during nor’easters that battered the area last winter.

“It’s great to have this extra way to document what’s going on out there and also encourage everyone who’s visiting the site to sort of become part of that effort to record what’s happening,” she added.

The types of sites that have photo stations vary, from a beach at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, to Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island. The easternmost site looks out at Montauk Inlet. There are four locations in East Hampton Town.

Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the project lets residents help “document and better understand the environmental changes impacting our beautiful coastline.”

Calling all citizen scientists: Peconic Baykeeper wants your help documenting coastal changes and rising sea levels on the East End  — and all you need is your cellphone.

The Hampton Bays-based environmental organization recently unveiled a multiyear, community-based initiative to visually record coastal changes in the Peconic Estuary — which includes all the bays and waterways between Long Island's North and South forks. It spans more than 125,000 acres of land and 158,000 acres of surface water, according to Suffolk County officials.

At 15 designated photo stations from Riverhead to Montauk, volunteers can use their cellphones to capture images of harbors, bays and creeks and email them to a specified address before the photos are put into a time-lapse slideshow through the website Chronolog.

Pete Topping, executive director of Peconic Baykeeper, said the nonprofit's goal is to consistently gather photos at the sites over several years to illustrate the changing environment.

Called Project RISE, which stands for Recording Inundation Surrounding the Estuary, the community science project also aims to highlight “some of the most beautiful publicly accessible places remaining in the Peconic Estuary” and create “a connection with the community,” Topping said.

Peconic Estuary Partnership, a Riverhead-based nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore the estuary, awarded a $24,000 grant to Peconic Baykeeper to fund the project for five years. The grant covered acquiring the materials and using Chronolog's website, Topping said.

Joyce Novak, the partnership's executive director, said the project will create a “robust record” of what’s happening at each of the 15 sites. 

“It’s just a really good example of things that we call 'citizen science,' ” she said. “People out there getting involved, loving their environment and with something as simple as their phone.”

At the photo station at Elizabeth Alexandra Morton National Wildlife Refuge site near Sag Harbor, volunteers submitted 11 photos from May 9 to 27, officials said.

Sea levels around Long Island are expected to increase by 13 to 25 inches in the next 25 years, Newsday recently reported in an examination of how rising seas could reshape coastlines.

Recently, Topping demonstrated from one of the photos stations how volunteers can take part in the community science initiative.

At Conscience Point in North Sea, he placed his cellphone horizontally into a bracket set atop a wooden post before snapping a photo of North Sea Harbor. A sign affixed to a wooden post near the waterfront has instructions.

Topping emailed the photo to the address listed on the sign, with the subject line “PBK-111” to indicate the specific location. Within a few minutes, a confirmation email arrived in Topping's inbox. Submitting a photo doesn't require downloading an app or registering for a Chronolog account.

Chronolog's software screens all photos before publication, according to its website. Topping said he and other members of the environmental organization also can remove photos, which are visible shortly after volunteers upload them. He estimated it will take about five years to gather usable data and said he hopes the project can continue well beyond that timeline. 

Topping said his organization coordinated with several municipalities and organizations to get authorization to place the photo stations. For example, to put one at Conscience Point, the organization needed permission from Southampton History Museum, the property's owner.

Sarah Kautz, the museum's executive director, said the site was home to the Shinnecock Indian Nation for thousands of years when, in 1640, it was the landing site of the first English colonists who settled in Southampton.

Both benefited “from the productivity of the marsh-bordered land and harbor,” reads a museum sign at the location.

Kautz said the area can be prone to flooding, as during nor’easters that battered the area last winter.

“It’s great to have this extra way to document what’s going on out there and also encourage everyone who’s visiting the site to sort of become part of that effort to record what’s happening,” she added.

The types of sites that have photo stations vary, from a beach at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead, to Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island. The easternmost site looks out at Montauk Inlet. There are four locations in East Hampton Town.

Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said the project lets residents help “document and better understand the environmental changes impacting our beautiful coastline.”

Calling all project volunteers

  • Photo stations on the East End are set up for volunteers to take pictures of the Peconic Estuary.
  • Volunteers then can email photos according to instructions at the sites.
  • The website Chronolog creates time lapse slideshows that over years can document coastal change.
SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME