More information about the project
According to the webpage at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/penguintom79/penguin-watch/about/research:
New for Summer 2020
From Penguin Watch: We are trying to automate the cameras we call "Foraging cameras". These are cameras set to shoot at 1 minute intervals in order to capture very short behavioural events like parents feeding chicks or changeovers during incubation. Our dataset for foraging images is huge and uploading it all here would be very difficult (and possibly very boring). For that reason we are uploading only one 24hr period for each of our cameras (Some old ones too as we have been prioritising normal timelapse monitoring over this particular type of study). Getting this data from volunteers will be of great help to assess the reliability of our Artificial Intelligence algorithm and help refine it in different conditions (day and night) and for the different species of study (Gentoos, Adelies and Chinstraps).
If you see two images are quite alike it will likely be two different images just a few minutes apart. Please mark as usual or refresh for a chance of an image of a different colony. We are currently uploading cameras from all colonies at the same time to make this task more varied and provide a better experience to our volunteers. In the coming week(s) we will also be uploading some new footage from cameras we haven't managed to reach this season and that our collaborators have just sent us!
As always, thanks so much for your help! It is incredibly useful to find out what penguins are doing when we are not there and to understand what threatens them and how. Thanks again!
New for World Penguin Day
Argentina - The Austral Center for Scientific Research (CADIC-CONICET) in Ushuaia, Argentina has cameras on Isla Estados and on islands in the Beagle Channel at the Southern tip of South America, near Cape Horn. These are similar to the colonies seen in Antarctica (many penguins in a single view). These cameras are in the timelapse camera workflow and feature Magellanic, Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins.
New Zealand - The Tawaki Project is studying the breeding biology and foraging ecology of the enigmatic tawaki (or Fiordland penguin) in the rainforests of New Zealand’s Southwest. Very little was known about the species even though it was suspected that its population was in decline. However, Tawaki Project nest monitoring since 2014 paints a more promising picture. Tawaki may even be increasing in numbers. The time-lapse data analysed here, will help us understand how often adult tawaki return to feed their chicks, and will give us an idea about breeding success.
Australia - A Little Penguin colony just 50 km south of Western Australia’s capital, Perth, is only 500 m offshore from a rapidly growing urban area. It has been the subject of many studies such as tracking where the penguins feed, determining what they feed on, and estimating the number of penguins in the colony. But the longest running study has been monitoring the breeding of a subset of penguins that use nestboxes first placed on the island in 1986. Breeding penguins spend the day either on the nest incubating eggs or guarding young chicks, or at sea feeding. But they only return at night, and we know very little about the behaviour when they come back to their nest. The motion-camera images will help us understand what they do outside their nest. But more than that, we can gather information on a potential predator of penguin eggs and chicks, the Australian raven.
Why are we doing it?
Because seabirds spend the majority of their life at sea and feed near the top of the food chain, changes in their populations are likely to reflect the changes occurring in the wider ecosystem, making them excellent indicators of the health of the marine environment. As such, many seabirds, are also considered a sentinel of change. A sentinel species is an organism, in this case seabirds, that we can use to detect early warning of risks to key ecosystems and by extension to humans.
Seabirds are declining worldwide; under threat from climate change, pollution, disturbance and competition with fisheries. We want to monitor, understand and protect these species, but we have lacked the ability to collect data on a large enough scale. It matters, because we know that seabirds, such as an Adélie penguin, show very different trends in their populations between East and West Antarctica, where they may be experiencing different environmental conditions and threats.
Penguin Watch aims to understand these threats and to reverse them through informing policy changes where we can.
Quite simply, we do this through a LOT more data. We have spent the last 10 years putting out cameras, around Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, to monitor their annual breeding and reproductive success. We also use drones to count colonies and we pick up poo and feathers to monitor disease, diet and stress.
Spot the location of your favourite Penguin Watch images on our interactive camera map by clicking on the image below:
Penguin Watch Map1.JPG
The "i"nfo button below each image you are marking will give you the name of the camera (see the capital letters at the beginning of the image name, for example BOOT or NEKO). Then click on the same code in the interactive map list to find the location of the image you are looking at (note that the map has multiple tabs so change tab if you cannot find the code in the first tab).
Key research aims
Ultimately, we believe that our research will feed directly into policy as we build evidence to determine important regions for penguins and highlight specific colonies of concern. There is growing support for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, which would help protect penguins by managing human activities. Images taken throughout the year at multiple locations provide the ability to answer a range of interesting questions. Specifically, we aim to:
Determine chick survival and breeding success, and how this varies across species ranges and between years
Identify the causes of chick mortality (e.g. predation in the colony versus parents abandoning chicks)
Record changes in the timing of breeding (e.g. arrival date, fledging date) and how this is affected by environmental conditions
Threats to Antarctic species
Antarctica is the world’s highest, driest, coldest and windiest continent (with the least number of traffic wardens) and is home to a range of exceptional species. However, there is growing concern over this unique ecosystem, and the risks it faces from climate change, fisheries and direct human disturbance. Over the latter part of the twentieth century, the Antarctic Peninsula has been amongst the most rapidly warming parts of our planet and this is causing significant reductions in sea ice and the collapse of ice shelves. This has important consequences for species living in these areas and for the management of local fisheries. Penguins are used by scientists as indicators of change within their ecosystem because, as easy to monitor species, any change in their breeding performance, or population size and distribution are likely to reflect changes to species lower down the food chain, or in the Antarctic environment as a whole. Therefore, monitoring these species will provide valuable insight into the large-scale changes occurring.
Antarctic krill is the focus of a fishery that operates in the Southern Ocean and, following regional decreases in sea ice extent and duration, is now increasingly operating during the summer months at a time when krill-eating predators, such as penguins, are breeding. A key issue therefore, is how to manage krill fisheries so that they do not cause irreversible impacts on krill-eating predators like penguins. In order to do this, we need to closely monitor penguin populations, particularly those using areas that overlap with the fisheries. However, many of these colonies are challenging to access and have only been visited once or twice. We, therefore, must make use of remote techniques such as analysis of aerial photography to monitor these penguin colonies and to measure any population change that might have occurred.
Penguin Watch project voluntarily complies to the British Standard BS 8848: Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions and adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom. We were honoured to win, in 2019, the BSI Standards Users Award for "Trust" which recognises the use of voluntary standards to increase trust from clients and suppliers (details here)."