A curious beluga whale swims close to Captain Hayley's boat. A snapshot feature on the Beluga Cam page lets viewers participate in a Citizen Science project. Now in a pilot phase, scientists hope the project will provide insights on these whales.

8/30/2016 1:49:37 PM

Be a Beluga Citizen Scientist

Would you like to become a Citizen Scientist and help researchers gain insights into the beluga whale pods in the Churchill River estuary? 

Every summer, thousands of belugas gather in the estuary's warm waters, and, once again, we're tracking this event through Beluga Live Cams in partnership with explore.org 

Scientists have many questions about the belugas in the Churchill River, and the Underwater Beluga Cam could provide unique insights into the lives of these whales. Dr. Stephen Petersen and Meg Hainstock, researchers from Winnipeg, are trying to learn more about the group dynamics of the region's beluga pods. If successful, the project could help with important beluga research in the years to come.

You can help the team identify males and females by taking regular snapshots on the underwater cam when you get a nice view of a beluga belly (especially towards the tail end). Overall shots of a pod are helpful, too, as they help researchers determine the age composition, including the number of young. Captain Hayley and her crew will keep track of where the boat goes using GPS, so this information and your snapshots will help build a better understanding of the beluga's social structure and use of the estuary.

You can also help scientists build a photo library of individual whales. If you see whales with scars or markings, take a snapshot and post it in the cam's comments section. We will then try to find those same whales later in the season and in future years to see how often they return to the same estuary.

If you have any questions, post them in the cam's live chat window throughout the season and Captain Hayley and I will respond. Thank you for all you do for Arctic conservation, from belugas to sea ice to polar bears!

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