STEM and Society series a scientific showcase

01 June 2021 Watch STEM and Society series watch icon

Dr Rebecca McIntosh spoke about the SealSpotter Challenge for the STEM and Society series.
Dr Rebecca McIntosh spoke about the SealSpotter Challenge for the STEM and Society series.

A new online series has highlighted the game-changing work being undertaken by various Victorian scientists and researchers.

Presented as a partnership between the Parliament of Victoria, the Royal Society of Victoria and Victorian Parliamentarians for STEM, the STEM and Society series streamed live on Parliament’s Facebook page and website as part of Victoria’s National Science Week program.

To launch the program citizen science took centre stage, with Dr Rebecca McIntosh and Ross Holmberg from the Phillip Island Nature Parks team discussing the launch of the annual SealSpotter Challenge, when citizen scientists around the globe jump online to count Australian fur seals and contribute to vital conservation research.

Ross at SealSpotters

The SealSpotter program allows anyone with a computer to help with the management and protection of our oceans by counting seals in images captured with a UAV drone. The count enables scientists to analyse seal population and marine debris entanglement data faster and more accurately, leading to a greater understanding of the fur seal’s world and the threats they face.

Last year citizen scientists participated from every continent on the planet – including Antarctica! By offering a taste of what scientists in the field see and experience, Rebecca and Ross and the team at Phillip Island Nature Parks have started a movement, bringing the wider community along with them to affect necessary behavioural change and achieve their conservation goals.

Other presentations in the ‘STEM and Society’ series so far focused on the Anthropocene, the theory of tectonic plates and insights into Victoria’s most beloved collecting institutions.

The series will continue in 2022.