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Scientists need your help counting walruses from space

Scientists are asking the public for help in counting walruses in satellite photos. (Photo: Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – The World Wildlife Fund and the British Antarctic Survey are conducting a walrus census – and they need your help.

The organizations hope that you (and thousands of others) look at satellite images of walruses in their arctic habitat and count how many you see. The count of Atlantic walruses and Laptev will give scientists a better idea of ​​how populations are coping with climate change and melting sea ice.

“Assessing walrus populations by traditional methods is very difficult because they live in extremely remote areas, spend a lot of their time on the ice floes and move around a lot. Satellite imagery can solve this problem, ”said Hannah Cubaynes, research associate at the British Antarctic Survey, in a press release. “However, doing this for all of the Atlantic and Laptev walruses will require huge amounts of images, too many for a single scientist or a small team.”

This is where you can help. WWF and BAS hope 500,000 people will join the effort.

Scientists are concerned about the Arctic and Laptev walruses, the WWF said, as they use the sea ice to rest and have babies. As the ice disappears, they fear that walruses will have fewer places to rest and that they will have to expend more energy searching for food which is also increasingly scarce.

They can also be forced to land on land with less sea ice around. “Overcrowded beaches can have fatal consequences; Walruses are easily frightened, and when frightened they rush towards the water, stomping on each other in panic, ”WWF said.

Anyone interested in helping can find out more and register to participate here. All you need is a computer or tablet and internet access. Children can participate with the help and / or permission of parents.


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