British scientists are asking the public to help them study penguin populations in Antarctica. Researchers have set up 75 cameras in locations around the continent and its surrounding islands but don’t have the resources to sort through all the images.
Lead researcher Tom Hart from the University of Oxford told the BBC, “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.”
Called PenguinWatch 2.0, the project calls for users to log on to a website, look at photos, and simply identify adult penguins, chicks and eggs in each image. Users can also chat about their results with other volunteers on the website’s “Discuss” page. It’s as simple as that.
Each of the 75 cameras takes one photo per hour throughout the year, and there’s a backlog of hundreds of thousands of images that researchers have yet to examine.
The Oxford University team has already shown “a link between climate change and a decline in Adelie and Chinstrap penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.”
They are analyzing climate, pollution and fisheries data to determine what’s responsible for the decrease in penguin populations and how the decrease can be reversed.
The Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins are found in Antarctica.