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Scientists Need You To Look At Adorable Penguin Photos

Apr 14, 2016 07:14 AM EDT
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If you like scrolling through adorable penguin photos in your spare time, here's how to finally do that while contributing to a large science project.
(Photo : Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

If you like looking at adorable penguin photos on the Internet, you may finally be doing it for a good cause.

A team of scientists from Oxford University recently started a project called PenguinWatch, which relies on volunteers to look at Antarctica penguins and help them observe their daily lives.

The highly addictive and interactive website employs over 75 cameras that monitor over 100 sites of penguin colonies across the continent. Each camera automatically takes a photo every hour, creating a huge resource for monitoring the penguins.

According to BBC, this project is now considered as the "largest Antarctic science citizen venture in the world."

The process is pretty simple. Just head over the website, log in and identify the adult penguins, chicks and eggs in the photos. (Yes, including the cuddly chicks!) You can just click on the penguin butts, heads or chests and classify them.

The penguins can be classified as Chinstrap, Gentoo, Adelie, Rockhopper and King. Other nearby animals in the sites can be classified and marked to let scientists know who usually hang around the penguin colonies.

There are also opportunities to speak and interact with other volunteers and even scientists to talk about your recent markings. With the huge number of photos, a great Internet army is just what this PenguinWatch needs.

Lead researcher Dr. Tom Hart said they are counting on the volunteers to help them classify the hundreds of thousands of photos they already have.

"We can't do this work on our own, and every penguin that people click on and count on the website - that's all information that tells us what's happening at each nest, and what's happening over time," he told BBC.

At the moment, Canada Journal reports that over 3 million photos have been classified, thanks to volunteers.

This huge project is important in helping scientists discover the threats to penguins in Antarctica, such as climate change and introduced predators.

So what better way to spend your idle time or lunch break at work? Head over to PenguinWatch and binge on adorable penguin photos -- in the name of science.

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