“Walrus from Space” Detectives Needed for British Antarctic Survey

Back in 2021, the call went out for internet sleuths to comb satellite images for walruses. Why? Because the British Antarctic Survey — in connection with the WWF — is trying to get an accurate estimate or count of walrus populations. According to the U.K. program, this is how it breaks down:

Photo: Pixabay/PublicDomainImages

What is Walrus from Space?

“Walrus are facing the reality of the climate crisis, and we need to know more about how they are affected. WWF and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are asking the public to become ‘walrus detectives’ and help contribute to conservation science by searching for and counting walruses in the thousands of satellite images taken from space.

“Over 5 years, the project, which is in cooperation with scientists around the Arctic, aims to carry out the first-ever whole population census of Atlantic and Laptev walruses using satellite imagery and explore what might happen to them in the context of rapid climate change. This will help scientists to better understand the impact of climate change on populations of this iconic species and help safeguard their future.”

Photo: Pixabay/minka2507

Satellite Sleuths

The project roadmap outlines three phases, which include Identify, Count, and Help.

“To date, over 11,000 people from around the world have become Walrus Detectives, helping us to complete phase 1 of Walrus from Space. Nearly half a million VHR satellite images have been scoured for signs of walrus – and this is only the beginning!

“From mid-January 2023, the public will be asked to place points on individual walruses, if walruses can be distinguished from one another, or draw outlines around the tight group of walrus in those images.

“The counting phase includes 52 walrus groups (haul-outs) and will be open for 3 weeks, with the aim to get a minimum of 9 different walrus detectives to count each image chip.”

Photo: Pixabay/Leni8

Get Involved

The program wants to find out how quickly and how seriously the climate crisis is affecting walrus populations and needs your assistance. You can help search for walruses in the thousands of images that will be gathered by satellites over five years. All you need is access to a computer or tablet and an internet connection to take part.

The minimum recommended age for participating in the activity without adult supervision is 10 years old. All participants under the age of 13 must have parental consent to use the platform. Create an account and then take a short tutorial on how to be an armchair walrus detective. You will be able to test your walrus-identifying skills and then get searching through the satellite imagery.

To learn more about the program or to register, visit the official website here and/or watch the video below.

People, Pets & Planet

Help where it’s needed most at GreaterGood for free!