Well, to answer your question broadly, there
are literally thousands of projects that one can
do on local shorelines! It sounds like you are
looking for a field-based project, one where most
of your data is collected from real coastal
settings rather than collecting specimens or
samples and bringing them into controlled
An easy way to start considering
these systems is by thinking ecologically.
For example, what types of plants/animals/algae
are in local coastal habitats? Does the
diversity/abundance/size/etc. of species differ
between different types of shoreline (rocky,
sandy, mud, protected, shaded, etc), or between
different tidal heights (high on the shore vs.
lower on the shore)?
You could easily pick a
couple types of organisms and follow them across
various sites. Perhaps you can try to put them
into a bigger picture - how do your findings
relate to what we know about predator/prey
relationships? Can you relate the findings
to location differences (areas that get different
amounts of human activity, or with differing
proximity to industrial areas like marinas or
sewer run-off sites, etc)?
You could also look
at the characteristics of habitats
themselves - for example, you could examine
tide pools of different sizes/sun v.
shade/depth and measure how
quickly they heat up during low tides on sunny
days and cloudy days, and the different numbers
and kinds of organisms found in each one.
You could look at water differences, like
salinity or chemicals in various areas. Or
collect water samples and observe the resident
plankton densities/diversity under a
microscope and relate it to the organisms on that
shoreline, or to currents and the area's exposure
to open ocean water sources.
Most of these ideas are
ecology-based (since I am an ecologist), but there
are plenty of other directions you can go in
depending on your personal interests. Maybe you
can just take an hour or two and go to your local
beach and see what catches your eye. You can get a
lot of really interesting information about
coastal areas by taking the time to bend down and
look closely at the marine life there. Then you
can start thinking about how an organism's
survival is affected by its biological and
physical interactions with its