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How to get involved with Citizen Science on a polar voyage

Citizen science programs are insightful, engaging ways to learn and help the world around us. Read on to discover the citizen science projects you can join on a polar voyage with Explore.
Author: Aimee White - SEO Copywriter at Explore Worldwide
Date Published: 10 July 2024
 

Citizen science is a fascinating and inclusive way for ‘ordinary’ travellers to get involved with providing valuable scientific research. On a selection of our vessels and under expert guidance, you can supply much-needed information which can help and influence scientific understanding of the Polar region's changing environments and issues. Your efforts, no matter how big or small, go towards supporting and protecting these special places and marine life.

The Polar regions are some of the most remote places in the world, making it extremely difficult (and expensive) for scientists to conduct thorough research. That's where you come in: it's much more manageable for scientists to join your Polar voyage, while you'll benefit from learning about marine ecosystems.

During your Arctic or Antarctica trips with Explore, you can join various Polar citizen science projects, from photographing humpback whales to counting seabirds. Read on for more:

1. Happywhale

While travelling on one of our selected Polar voyages, you can submit photographs of humpback whales and other marine mammals (including seals, dolphins and turtles) that you spot to Happywhale. This Citizen Science project uses AI to identify each creature by their unique markings and sends the information to a public database.

Both citizen scientists and professional scientists can use this database to track individual mammals, widening our understanding of their movements across the world's oceans.

Included on:

2. GLOBE Program

The international GLOBE Program looks at cloud coverage by comparing data with NASA satellite flyovers. Scientists require frequent cloud observations for an accurate understanding, and there's a straight forward way that you can help on our Polar trips.

Your cloud photographs and detailed notes, submitted via their app, allows scientists to better analyse how cloud cover affects the Earth's surface and air temperature. 

Included on:
Ocean Endeavour
M/V Greg Mortimer
M/V Sylvia Earle
Le Commandant Charcot

Image credit: Antarctica21
Read our climate action plan

3. eBird

Whether it's onboard M/V Greg Mortimer or M/V Sylvia Earle, you can spend time with a naturalist or ornithologist (bird expert) and contribute to seabird surveys.

eBird is the world's largest birding community, where you can observe and submit data about differences in bird species, ages and breeding cycles. Whether at sea or on a landing site, your sightings provide valuable bird research for the Polar regions.

Included on:
M/V Greg Mortimer
M/V Sylvia Earle

4. The Big Microplastic Survey

Mad about plastic? Us too. Microplastics are so small that they're difficult to see with the naked eye, and are one of the greatest threats to Earth's seas, coasts and wildlife. The Big Microplastic Survey is an ongoing project where you can help researchers locate where microplastics are, how much there is and what type of plastic it is.

With the help of a qualified member of the expedition team, you'll sieve through small samples of microplastics, before residual microplastics are recorded and sent for further analysis.

Included on: 
M/V Greg Mortimer
M/V Sylvia Earle
Read about our sustainability on tour

5. FjordPhyto Project

Small but mighty, phytoplankton contribute to half of Earth's photosynthesis and are crucial to the marine food chain. On board our Zodiac vessels, you can get involved with FjordPhyto, a Citizen Science program who have sampled over 33 fjords to date.

These fjords are biodiversity hotspots, and your sample collections can influence and answer critical science questions such as phytoplankton seasonal numbers and distribution. This rewarding citizen science project will see you return from your icy adventure with a deeper understanding of the Polar environment.

Included on:
Ocean Endeavor
M/V Greg Mortimer
M/V Sylvia Earle
M/V Magellan Explorer
Le Commandant Charcot

Image credit: Antarctica21

6. Secchi Disk Study

The Secchi Disk Foundation is a hands-on marine project that uses a simple tool to measure water clarity and map phytoplankton. The Secchi Disk Study uses a black and white disk that is lowered into the water from a stationary Zodiac vessel.

Then, when it reaches a level where it can no longer be seen amid the phytoplankton, the Secchi disk records the depth. This data is entered into a monitoring app, allowing scientists to gain a stronger insight into the marine world of the Arctic and Antarctica.

Included on:
Ocean Endeavour
M/V Greg Mortimer
M/V Sylvia Earle

7. EyeSea

This non-profit organisation maps global pollution and maritime hazards, with an aim to protect our precious ecosystems for future generations. While exploring the remote Polar regions, you can submit photographs of any plastic debris you've spotted, either on land or at sea.

Once you've uploaded the images to the EyeSea app, these are geotagged, and this allows scientists to work towards a mapping solution. Your observations also provide experts with a better understanding of the ocean's health and biodiversity, and can help provide them with potential improvement solutions.

Included on:
Ocean Endeavour
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8. iNaturalist

iNaturalist is a global online community where you can submit photographs of various Polar mammals and creatures - Minke whales, Adelie penguins, Snow Petrals and more - and share them with fellow naturalists and scientists.

You can discuss your findings and find out more about the myriad of marine life that live in our oceans. Onboard expedition voyages like Ocean Endeavour allow you to provide quality Citizen Science data for scientific and conservation research purposes. 

Included on:
Ocean Endeavour

9. PolarTag

PolarTag is a Arctic and Antarctica-focused project that's focused on animal re-sightings. Your high-quality images of tagged animals serves the Polar regions research community as a trusted data source. Whether it's a photograph of Elephant seals, Pilot whales or Skua birds, your submissions can confirm (or correct) the data and location of the animals. 

Included on:
M/V Magellan Explorer
View all Polar trips

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