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September 1, 2017

Thousands of people help scientists with research on endangered Steller sea lion

Steller Watch project a huge success but still more work to be done!

Steller sea lions
Photo: Katie Sweeney, NOAA Fisheries

Steller Watch webpage
Citizen scientists help scientists by reviewing thousands of images. Screenshot of Steller Watch site.

As of the end of August, over four months after our launch, over 6,500 people have participated in Steller Watch helping us classify over 130,000 images. The ultimate goal -- to figure out why the endangered Steller sea lion continues to decline in the western Aleutian Islands.

After a short break while we were in the field collecting more photographs and other data on Steller sea lions, Steller Watch is live again.

With the help of the private citizens we are almost halfway through the newest set of images.

“The work of citizen scientists has been invaluable,” said Katie Sweeney, biologist, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “They help us classify images and regularly participate in our talk forums on the project site. Members of the public can even nominate a sea lion of the month, which is then featured in a story on our project blog.”

“We’re still looking for more help though as there are lots of photos to go through.” Check out Steller Watch.

Steller sea lions on beach
Can you find the marked animal in this photo? Photo: Katie Sweeney, NOAA Fisheries

maintenance being done on remote cameras
Maintenance of and downloading images from our remote cameras. We collected 245,972 images from 17 of the 20 sea lion remote cameras this summer.  Photo: Brian Fadely, NOAA Fisheries

Want to know even more?

Crowdsourcing science to obtain new information about endangered Steller sea lions.

Last year’s field blog: Investigating Steller sea lion declines on the remote Aleutian Islands.

Interesting facts about Steller sea lions.

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