Start of the 2014 season!

We’re getting ready for the start of the 2014/15 season. The permits are in; most of them have come back and we’re nearly ready!

The team this year is a mix of US collaborators and some out-numbered brits. The season starts with Tom and Caitlin heading out to South Georgia on the Hans Hanson to conduct some in-depth censuses and deploy some more cameras. Then, we’ll be picked up from Stanley in the Falkland Islands by the Ocean Diamond and taken around the Scotia Arc. Caitlin will be replaced by Mike and then Racheal from Woods Hole and Louisiana State University.

Mike is a veteran of over 10 seasons’ South now; and he’s clearly good at it, so he’s coming back for more with us.

Gemma will join me for a month when we jump ship onto the Sea Spirit and go to the South Sandwich Islands, where we will find out if the first camera on the South Sandwich has worked. If so, this is the first time there will be any sort of continuous monitoring on this archipelago. Fingers crossed!

Finally, new PhD student Hila and then visualisation and analytical specialist Eamonn will join me on the Ocean Diamond as we try and get around all the cameras on the Antarctic Peninsula.

So, what have we been up to in the off-season? It’s safe to say that that is the hard bit. We come back and readjust to the real world and work out how to tie shoelaces and cross the road. After the immediate flurry of seeing friends, relatives and doing the laundry, we get down to the hard job of curating samples and data. Samples might need cleaning or special preparation. Data is much harder; most of our data is raw imagery. That means we need to back everything up, then give each image a unique id, put it in a data base and extract the data. That usually means clicking on all the penguins in each image to extract the co-ordinates.

However, this year we are very excited about the launch of Penguin Watch on the Zooniverse platform. This should mean that we can engage with the general public, share our imagery and gain data from volunteer clicks. You can see more about it at

So, for now I’m off to book flights and pack stuff for shipping!


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