Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
9:00 AM 1st April 2020

‘SealSpotter Challenge’ Reaches Out To Citizen Scientists

Victoria’s Phillip Island Nature Parks has launched its popular annual global SealSpotter Challenge early to provide much-needed entertainment for people at home, as well as to contribute to vital seal research.

The island, located just 90 minutes south of Melbourne, in Australia, is home to thousands of fur seals who feed and frolic in the sea and on land.

SealSpotter harnesses the drone technology currently being used by Phillip Island Nature Parks to monitor several colonies of Australian fur seals on Victoria’s offshore islands.

The high-resolution images captured during the pupping season of December 2019 are uploaded to the SealSpotter portal, ready for Citizen Scientists to start counting from today.

Participants have two weeks to access the web portal and count as many seals and seal pups as they can. Some of Victoria’s fur seal colonies can number in the tens of thousands, so the contribution made by citizen scientists counting the various populations accurately and efficiently is hugely valuable to researchers.

The SealSpotter Challenge was launched on World Oceans Day in 2019 and Nature Parks’ researchers were thrilled with the results and the level of engagement by people from 25 countries and all continents of the world – even Antarctica.

Citizen Scientists from around the world managed to view and label over 16,559 images and classify over 113,039 seals. Phillip Island Nature Parks is a unique conservation organisation which operates the Penguin Parade, the Koala Reserve and a number of other eco-tourism experiences to inspire people to actively protect the environment.

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