Quantcast
Animals

Antartica's Penguins Need Your Help, Become a Citizen Scientist Today

In case anyone needed a reason to spend hours on end looking at pictures of adorable penguins, we now have a valid excuse: scientists need us to.

Researchers from the University of Oxford studying penguins in Antarctica are conducting the largest ever census of penguins and have launched the latest version of their project, PenguinWatch 2.0, to learn more about how they’re doing. They’re recruiting citizen scientists to help them.

Researchers from the University of Oxford studying penguins in Antarctica are conducting the largest ever census of penguins and have launched the latest version of their project, PenguinWatch 2.0, to learn more about how they’re doing. Photo credit: Thinkstock

For the project, researchers have set up dozens of remote cameras throughout the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Peninsula that are capturing images of colonies of Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie, King and Rockhopper penguins.

Researchers are hoping to use the data they’re collecting to learn more about and how penguins are being impacted by various factors, including climate change, pollution, commercial fishing and tourism.

While the cameras provide a great non-invasive way to study penguins, they’re taking between 8 to 96 images every day throughout the entire year, which has left researchers with hundreds of thousands of images to sort through and not enough time to do it.

That’s where the public comes in. With the project’s new website, people can tag images of penguins, chicks and eggs and can now also discuss their findings with other volunteers and ask researchers questions about what they’re seeing. Our efforts are also helping their computer learn to recognize penguins, which researchers hope can speed up their analysis in the future.

Photo credit: PenguinWatch

While penguins are cute and fun to watch, they’re also really important for other reasons. As PenguinWatch explains:

As top predators, penguins are considered sentinels of changes within their ecosystem. Because penguins spend the majority of their life in water and fall at the top of the food chain, any variations in their populations may represent larger changes to the dynamic Antarctic ecosystem. We hope to measure these changes year-round at a large geographical range of study sites in order to better understand how threats to the ecosystem disrupt the dynamics of resident wildlife.

Researchers hope to use they’re findings to determine important habitats for penguins and what’s threatening them, which could potentially impact activities in the region and hopefully lead to the creation of protected areas that will keep penguins and other wildlife safe.

“We can’t do this work on our own and every penguin that people click on and count on the website—that’s all information that tells us what’s happening at each nest and what’s happening over time,” lead researcher, Dr. Tom Hart, told the BBC.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

WWF and Leonardo DiCaprio: Wild Tiger Populations Increase for First Time in 100 Years

Photo Ark: One Man’s Journey to Save the World’s Most Endangered Species

Love Wildlife? Check Out These 11 Stunning Photos From Yellowstone National Park

Penguin Swims 5,000 Miles Each Year to Visit the Man Who Rescued Him

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Abdallah Issa / Flickr

Post-Fire Landslide Problems Likely to Worsen: What Can Be Done?

By Lee MacDonald

Several weeks after a series of wildfires blackened nearly 500 square miles in Southern California, a large winter storm rolled in from the Pacific. In most places the rainfall was welcomed and did not cause any major flooding from burned or unburned hillslopes.

But in the town of Montecito, a coastal community in Santa Barbara County that lies at the foot of the mountains blackened by the Thomas Fire, a devastating set of sediment-laden flows killed at least 20 people and damaged or destroyed more than 500 homes. In the popular press these flows were termed "mudslides," but with some rocks as large as cars these are more accurately described as hyperconcentrated flows or debris flows, depending on the amount of sediment mixed with the water.

Keep reading... Show less
The most notable observation from the count was DeMartino's sighting of the golden crowned kinglet, but in general volunteers found the same species they normally do. (Photo above is of a golden crowned kinglet, but not the one DeMartino spotted.) Melissa McMasters

Birders Get a First Look at How 2017 California Wildfires Affected Wildlife

By Matt Blois

A neighbor knocked on Rick Burgess's door at about 9:30 p.m. to tell him a fire was coming towards his home in Ventura, California. When he looked outside he saw a column of smoke, and the hills were already starting to turn orange. He loaded up his truck with a collection of native plants he was using to write a countywide plant guide, and barely had enough time to get out.

Keep reading... Show less
A learning garden from Kimbal Musk's nonprofit called Big Green. The Kitchen Community

Elon Musk's Brother Wants to Bring #RealFood to 100,000 Schools Across America

Kimbal Musk's nonprofit organization, The Kitchen Community, is expanding into a new, national nonprofit called Big Green, to build hundreds of outdoor Learning Garden classrooms across America.

Learning Gardens teach children an understanding of food, healthy eating and garden skills through experiential learning and garden-based education that tie into existing school curriculum, such as math, science and literacy.

Keep reading... Show less
Drilling fluids spilled into Ohio wetlands during construction of the Rover Pipeline in April. Sierra Club

Rover Pipeline Spills Another 150,000 Gallons of Drilling Fluid Into Ohio Wetlands

Energy Transfer Partners' troubled $4.2 billion Rover pipeline has spilled nearly 150,000 gallons of drilling fluid into wetlands near the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio—the same site where it released 2 million gallons in April.

The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, is currently under construction by the same Dallas-based company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Large Dams Fail on Climate Change and Indigenous Rights

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams, despite opposition from Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists and others. The country gets 70 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Brazil's government had plans to expand development, opening half the Amazon basin to hydro. But a surprising announcement could halt that.

Keep reading... Show less
Jim Henderson / Wikimedia Commons

World's Largest Money Manager: Companies Must Respond to Social and Climate Challenges

The world's largest publicly traded companies must take a more active role in solving social issues or face blowback from investors, the CEO of BlackRock said Tuesday.

"To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society," Laurence Fink wrote in his annual letter to CEOs of companies in which BlackRock invests. BlackRock is the world's largest money manager, with more than $6 trillion in assets.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
16:9clue / Flickr

Lawsuit Filed Against Walmart for Claiming 'Cage-Free' Eggs

By Dan Nosowitz

A lawsuit has been filed in a California district court against two of the biggest companies in the country: Walmart and Cal-Maine Foods. The lawsuit claims that Walmart and Cal-Maine—the latter is one of the biggest egg producers in the U.S.—lied to customers about the treatment of hens whose eggs were sold at Walmart. The alleged lie? The packaging claimed "outdoor access," yet the birds are not permitted to go outside.

Keep reading... Show less
Ryan Zinke. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Majority of National Parks Panel Quits in Protest of Ryan Zinke

Nearly all members of the National Park Service advisory panel abruptly quit on Monday in protest of the Trump administration's policies, which they say have neglected science, climate change and environmental protections.

"From all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside," the head of the panel, Tony Knowles, wrote in a letter of resignation addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees management of the country's national parks and monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!