Penguin Watch ‘Citizen Scientist’ Contest Winner Announced 

Contest Advances Penguin Research by Six Months 

Leading polar adventure travel company Quark Expeditions®, in collaboration with Penguin Lifelines at Oxford University, is pleased to announce the results of the 2015 Penguin Watch ‘Citizen Scientist’ contest. The Penguin Lifelines project extends a special thank you to contest participants who, over the course of the contest, assisted researchers in identifying and counting penguins from over 18,000 still images on the Penguin Watch project website. Dr. Tom Hart, the penguinologist who runs the project at Oxford, is delighted with the contest’s results and its impact on his team’s research into Antarctic penguin populations:

  • Over 176,000 viewers visited the Penguin Watch website during the contest.
  • Over 70,000 new participants in the ‘Citizen Scientist’ contest.
  • ‘Citizen Scientist’ collaboration resulted in the advancement of research by six months.

“We’re incredibly grateful to all who participated in the contest at Penguin Watch,” said Dr. Hart. “The work our global supporters have done annotating these pictures is just so valuable to our project. It assists us in accurately identifying and counting the penguins captured by our many Antarctic cameras, and also ‘teaches’ the computer program to recognize them, so that in future, our research will be more automated and less labor-intensive.”

Penguin Lifelines has over 60 cameras set up in Antarctica, with access to images from another 40 cameras. Throughout the year, these cameras capture photos of penguin colonies in various stages of their life cycle and in their natural environment. Each year, Dr. Hart and his team visit as many cameras as possible to retrieve the images, install new cameras and collect feathers for feather-typing research similar to a human DNA test. The photos are then uploaded to the Penguin Watch website, where anyone with an interest in penguins can help tag them to identify eggs, chicks and adult penguins.

Penguin Lifelines research on Antarctic penguin populations is enabling us to learn more about the impacts of climate change, fisheries, loss of sea ice and other threats to world penguin populations. Dr. Hart and his team aim to identify these threats and risk factors, to inform policy and educate the public on issues facing penguins and how we can help protect them.

Members of the Penguin Watch team will be joining passengers as part of Quark’s Scientist in Residence program on select Ocean Endeavour departures. Currently, those wishing to meet and engage with the Penguin Watch team in person can do so on the following Quark voyages:

  • Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent – departs 4 Dec 2015; 12 Jan, 3 Feb, 3 Dec, 12 Dec, 21 Dec 2016
  • Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica: Explorers and Kings – departs 13 Dec 2015
  • Epic Antarctica: Falklands, South Georgia and Crossing the Circle – departs 30 Dec 2016
  • Crossing the Circle: Southern Expedition – departs 31 Dec 2015; 22 Jan 2016; 20 Jan 2017