Annual SealSpotter Challenge
Citizen Scientists around the world can contribute to vital seal research from the comfort of their own homes. Participants will have two weeks (8 June - 23 June 2019) to access the SealSpotter web portal and count as many seals and seal pups as they can, and very appropriately it’s starting on World Oceans Day.
This method of monitoring the fur seal population has replaced the traditional methods of counting the seals at the location. It provides greater precision and less disturbance and is therefore a better way of understanding the changes in population size over time. After June 23, the portal will remain open for participants who wish to continue counting the seals – more data is good.
SealSpotter harnesses the drone (RPA – Remote Piloted Aircraft) technology we are currently using to monitor several colonies of Australian fur seals on Victoria’s offshore islands. The high resolution images captured by the drone are then uploaded to the SealSpotter portal, ready for the start of the Annual SealSpotter Challenge. Each image is randomly assigned and will be counted multiple times. We use the average count of each image to determine the result. A video is provided before you start to explain the project and show you how to engage with the portal.
Australian fur seals are top predators, but unlike many marine predators, they come ashore to rest and breed, where we can monitor them. Some of Victoria’s fur seal colonies can number in the tens of thousands, so the contribution made by Citizen Scientists who can count the various populations accurately and efficiently through SealSpotter is highly valued. Participants help count seals, identify pups, and also spot entangled seals caught up in marine debris such as rubbish and fishing material. In 2018 we proved that Citizen Scientists can successfully perform the counts when compared to experts and two scientific papers have been published using the data.
We are excited not only about the collection of data, but also about some of the other benefits this type of accessible research collaboration brings. By engaging with a wide range of Citizen Scientists including individuals, schools and special interest groups, we are hoping that there will be an ever increasing awareness within the community of the need to support research to better understand our natural world and improve conservation and the health of our oceans.
We are looking forward to collating and publishing the results soon after the end of the challenge and celebrating the Citizen Scientists and those that have made a large effort towards the count. The SealSpotter portal was developed by Phillip Island Nature Parks’ researchers thanks to generous funding from the Penguin Foundation.
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Looking up... the number of records that can be accessed through the Atlas of Living Australia.Click to view records for the Annual SealSpotter Challenge resource.
Metadata last updated on 2019-06-05 15:01:17.0