The World Wildlife Fund and Britain's national polar research institute are seeking "walrus detectives"—meaning people who can search for walruses in satellite images from the Arctic, not marine mammals with an instinct for detection. Volunteers in the Walrus From Space project will be tasked with counting walruses in thousands of satellite images in the first-ever population census of Atlantic and Laptev walruses, which will help researchers understand how they are responding to the changing climate, Thrillist reports. The British Antarctic Survey says people can join the project here, where they can register and "be guided through a training module before joining the walrus census."
Rod Downie, chief polar adviser at the WWF, says walruses are a "key species in the Arctic marine ecosystem" and "they're really living on the front line of the climate crisis," Mashable reports. "The Arctic is vast, it's a difficult place for scientists to work, and we know that walrus can be very easily disturbed by human presence," Downie says. That's why we've teamed up with a satellite imagery provider, we can cover a vast scope of hundreds of places where walrus haul out across the Arctic. We can capture them through imagery from space. One of the biggest advantages to this project is that it’s completely uninvasive to the walrus themselves."
Volunteers will need to have at least 30 minutes to devote to the project—and they'll need a screen big enough to accurately count walruses, Thrillist notes. Some counts from the initial stage of the project were verified by a Norwegian team using drones and boat visits, but many more images will need to be searched over the next five years of the project. (Read more walruses stories.)