In an effort to figure out what’s behind the mysterious decline of Steller sea lions, scientists are trying out crowdsourcing for the first time. The project is called Steller Watch. The idea is to convince the public to comb through pictures looking for sea lions.
Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center have remote cameras stationed in the western Aleutian Islands that take pictures every five to 20 minutes every day of the year. From last year alone, they have nearly 400,000 images.
The cameras go off whether there’s a sea lion present or not. Right now, there’s only one question for the citizen scientists: Do you see a sea lion in this image?
Biologist Katie Sweeney says this information will help scientists analyze images in a timely manner.
“That’s important so we can come up with important population estimates and figure out why the Steller sea lion, which is endangered, is not recovering in the Aleutian Islands,” Sweeney said.
After they’ve built up a pile of pictures that have sea lions, Sweeney says they’ll start another phase to the project — looking for marked sea lions.
By monitoring marked animals, scientists can study sea lion movement, fertility and lifespan. The information could help these researchers identify what’s behind the animal’s decline.
- The co-chairmen of the House Finance Committee revised their plans to introduce an income tax to Alaska for the first time in nearly four decades.
- The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is in full swing. In less than a week, the fleet has caught over half of its quota. And while most crew members work on the water, spotter pilots fish for herring from the sky.
- A lot of eyes were on the U.S. House today, but, as Republican factions shuttled to the White House to negotiate, it was a day of waiting for most.
- Gov. Walker’s legislation creates a new definition for independent contractors that would determine whether employers have to pay to insure against on-the-job injuries.