Penguin Watch – Natural Science Research by Crowd

June 18, 2018

The term “clickworker” was famously coined in the year 2000 in a NASA crowd sourcing project. Back then the project concerned detecting and classifying craters on photographs of the surface of Mars. It was a project that, due to the enormous amount of data, could never been completed by NASA employees alone. However internet users were able to accomplish the task, and the term “clickworker” was also born as a byproduct.

Adult penguin and fledgling
(Image by user MemoryCatcher)

Oxford University’s “Penguin Lifeline Project” has a very similar approach. Here too the task is to go through a huge quantity of images, recognize content, distinguish and mark it. The difference to the NASA project of almost 20 years ago: it’s not about Mars craters this time, but as the name already suggests, penguin colonies.
The project attempts, based on changes in the penguin population, to gain insight about how ecosystems are altered through climate change, fishing and other man-made disturbances. The more data there is to analyze, the better the results obtained from it.

For this purpose cameras at more than 100 locations in the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic are automatically recording penguin colonies. Over the course of the last three years, several hundred thousand images of adult penguins, their young and eggs have been taken. Based on the number of animals, their relationship to each other, and the changes, conclusions can be drawn about the development of the ecosystem and possible necessary measures. And this is exactly where the internet community comes into play, because without its help it would be impossible to view and process this insane number of images. For this reason was created. Here any internet user can assist with the project and evaluate images themselves.

How can you participate?

Those who are interested can start immediately. Simply go to and look for the “Get started!” button. Right next to it the number of images that have already been classified, and the number of participants from around the world (almost 50,000) are also displayed.

(Image by user Pixel mixer)

Evaluating the images is easy. You’ll be shown an image and first you have to decide if any penguins can even be seen on it, and if you can mark them. Every now and then a snowstorm, for example, could make an image unusable. If there are animals present, simply choose the appropriate color for adults, young animals or penguin eggs and then you’re ready to go: click on the image and drag the marker to the center of the respective animal. Release. Next penguin. You repeat this until all animals have been marked, or you’ve placed 30 marks. Then you can decide if the image is completed, or if someone else will finish your work. If you’re satisfied with your markings, then you just need to save. Done!

By the way: the footer on the site displays links to many other volunteer projects in different fields. So if you don’t like penguins, maybe you’ll find something else there instead.

Dieser Artikel wurde am 18.June 2018 von Daniel Marz geschrieben.


Daniel Marz - Die - Your crowdsourcing Platform

3 Kommentare

Jyoti Khosla 19.06.2018, 17:37:00 Uhr


Hi Daniel,

Just wanted to check if this task is open to clickworkers across all locations? Also is it a paid job? If so, what wil be the payment mechanism?


Jarosław Gawriołek 01.07.2018, 03:13:33 Uhr


It’s very interesting project.

Daniel Marz 04.07.2018, 12:29:58 Uhr


Hi Jyoti. Penguinwatch is not a Clickworker task, nor is it paying you for participation.
We just found it a project interesting enough to present it on our blog, just like we did with other interesting crowdsourcing projects in the past.