The Arctic is under increasing threat due to climate change, and so is the biodiversity that it supports. That’s why the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the British Antarctic Survey have decided to collaborate with space tech company Maxar Technologies to initiate the “Walrus from Space” project.
This project is a crowdsourced search for walruses along the Arctic’s Laptev Sea and requires the participation of half a million “walrus detectives” from around the world to help them accomplish a “walrus census.”
The wildlife from space research associate (yes, that’s an official title) Hannah Cubaynes from the British Antarctic Survey says that traditional methods to determine walrus populations aren’t very effective, as walruses “live in extremely remote areas, spend much of their time on the sea ice, and move around a lot.”
The best way to assess the walrus population would be to collect satellite imagery from walrus populated areas and go through them one by one, however, that would be too great a task for Cubaynes’s team. “We need help from thousands of citizen scientists to help us learn more about this iconic animal.”
Why are walrus populations declining?
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the walrus-counting project is extremely important because, just as every other animal in the Arctic, walruses are feeling the effects of drastic climate change, especially since the Arctic is warming nearly three times faster than the rest of the world.
If you’re interested in becoming a walrus detective, visit this page on the WWF website, create an account, and participate in a training module to get started.