Penguin Watch

Penguins are a sentinel of change for ocean health. Their feeding and nesting habits, population numbers, and overall activity provide valuable insight into how other species in the ocean, who might not be as visible or easily studied, are faring. 

PenguinWatch is a research initiative led by penguinologists at Oxford, Louisiana State University, and other institutions and universities with a vested interest in the conservation of penguins. PenguinWatch is hosted on Zooniverse, which is a platform for researchers to post their data and solicit civilian help in processing visual data, the amount of which is vast. The network of cameras uses two types of devices,, some of which are motion triggered, some of which take continuous photos over a given timeframe, in the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Falkland Islands, and the South Shetland Islands, and those pictures are added to the PenguinWatch website. Citizen scientists pick a location and count individual penguins in photos from these cameras, also noting if they are chicks or adults, and report them to PenguinWatch. The data that has been collected since 2014 serves an important role for monitoring how well these “sentinels of change” are faring in an environment that is increasingly threatened by human activity, pollution, climate change, habitat change, and other factors. A fuller picture of their conditions also inform better policy, such as the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) around the Antarctic Peninsula. 


Jones, F. M., Allen, C., Arteta, C., Arthur, J., Black, C., Emmerson, L. M., … & Miller, G. (2018). “Time-lapse imagery and volunteer classifications from the Zooniverse Penguin Watch project.”


Artificial Intelligence, Biodiversity, Citizen Science, Ecological Monitoring, Internet of Things, Visual Technologies