If you are a CoastWatch volunteer, then you know that we are big fans of community science. We know that community science is an excellent way to deepen knowledge and increase awareness about your community and your favorite places. We also know that the results of community science can affect change. An outstanding example of this is the Oregon King Tides Project, co-coordinated by the Oregon Coastal Management Program and Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition. The 14th season concluded this January and planning is underway for next season, which will begin in November.

The Oregon King Tides Project in the simplest terms is a photo assignment. Volunteers are asked to snap the effects of the highest of the high tides in late fall and winter with phones or cameras. “King tides” is an expression that originated in Australia and has since been adopted by government agencies in the US to use crowdsourcing to get photos of the effects of the king tides of the year in coastal communities. The photo focus changes every year, but desired images are always the same – flooded streets and bridges, affected buildings and homes, other inundated infrastructure, erosion from big waves and more. Key to the project are comparison shots – regular high tides versus king tides. 

In Oregon, the Department of Land Conservation and Development tasks the Oregon Coastal Management Program to do this work, who then works with the CoastWatch program to recruit volunteers. CoastWatch educates about the project through seasonal presentations, its school programming and its adopt-a-mile program, encouraging participation as a way to learn about sea level rise in coastal communities. Many other partners support the program on-the-ground. Taking part in the Oregon King Tides Project plays a part in future planning. Volunteers contribute to a larger project of identifying places inundated by the highest tides of the year. These photos raise awareness of how rising waters affect coastal communities every winter.

Over 1500 photos and video have been submitted since the project began in 2010. The final count for the last season was 132 photo submissions, 7 videos, and approximately 57 participants. The Oregon Coast Management Program collects all on the Oregon King Tides Project website and a Flikr site. You can peruse images and videos from the last 14 years from different seasons, from a map, and more. The Oregon Coastal Management Program works with coastal cities, counties and state and federal agencies to administer Oregon’s federally approved Coastal Management Program, which emphasizes conservation of estuaries, shoreland, beaches and dunes, and ocean resources. The program provides financial and planning assistance to local governments, implements a coastal hazards and resilience program, supports the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council, maintains an online Oregon Coastal Atlas to provide coastal data and tools, and has authority under federal law to review federal programs and activities for consistency with Oregon’s federally approved coastal program standards. Rhiannon Bezore is the new Coastal Shores Specialist Oregon Coast Management Program at Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. You can watch a video of her presentation, hosted by CoastWatch in January 2024, about the Oregon King Tides Project.  

 As an incentive for participation, the project hosts a contest every year with prizes offered from the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. The photo winners of the 2023-2024 Oregon King Tide Project are below. 

  • For the coastal flooding category, a storm surge in late December 2023 at Tolovana Park, taken by Kerry Burg. 
  • For the coastal erosion category, a drone’s perspective of the sea wall in Depoe Bay, taken by Pelirrojo Productions, taken in mid-November, 2023.  
  • For the estuaries category, the bar area of Coos Bay including the Coast Guard tower and the north jetty and bay, taken by Jamie Baird in early February, 2024.
  • For the comparison shot category, the Alsea Bay Interpretative Center parking lot, looking toward Alsea Bay. Photo on the left is from the 2023-2024 season. Photo on the right shows the aftermath of the tidal surge in 2020. Both shots by Jon French.

Ready to join the project? Looking at NOAA’s predictions, the King Tide dates for the 2024-2025 season are November 15-17, December 13-15, and January 11-13.  To learn about what areas need photos, please visit the Oregon King Tides Project, click on the photo gallery, and go to the all-time map. Consider contributing to comparison shots, too, using the same photopoint as the one in the current picture. 

For more information, please visit the Oregon King Tides Project website or contact Jesse Jones, Oregon Shores, or Rhiannon Bezore, Oregon Coast Management Program. 

-Written by Jesse Jones, CoastWatch Programs Manager