April 14 2018 is Citizen Science Day, the start of a week celebrating all the amazing ways that people around the world contribute to science.
Citizen scientists are people like you and me, everyone from school children, to families, to dedicated volunteers, to local nature groups. Some go out into the wild to find and record nature, but you can even do science by joining projects at home.
When a call comes in to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) hotline, the details of a stranding can often be minimal and somewhat vague. An animal may be highly decomposed, inaccessible or lack features for it to be identified. As a research assistant for CSIP, my job is to investigate a stranding and try to gather as much information as possible so an accurate identification can be made. This blog post provides a simple guide for everyone to try and identify dolphins, whales and porpoises commonly washed up on British coastlines.
WARNING: This blog contains photographs of dead and injured stranded cetaceans which you may find upsetting
The film below gives you a glimpse into the working life of seaweed researcher Prof. Juliet Brodie. Juliet is the lead researcher on the Big Seaweed Search project and part of the team that created the beautiful new seaweed display in the Museum’s Hintze Hall.
A very big thank-you to the 1,000-plus in-house Visiteers and online Volunteers who helped us to extract research data from over 6,000 microscope slides of the world’s smallest insects – the chalcid parasitoid wasps. The Miniature Lives Magnified project is now closed, but you can still take part in our Digital Collections Programme by helping us with our microscope slides of Foraminifera in Miniature Fossils Magnified.
Over the course of the summer we will be processing the chalcid collection’s specimen label data that was transcribed by our digital volunteers. It will become available on the Museum’s Data Portal for anyone in the world to study.
With good weather forecast for most of the UK this coming weekend, and local schools breaking for half-term, many of you will be making a bee-line for the coasts… where you could be rock-pooling for science!
The Big Seaweed Search
Our Big Seaweed Search invites you to take photos of seaweeds and submit your observations online to help Museum researcher Juliet Brodie better understand how rising sea temperatures and other changes are affecting our beautiful seas.
We’re on the road to Lyme Regis in Dorset for the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival, taking place in the town centre from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 April (it’ll be the fifth time I’ve worked at the festival and it’s always brilliant fun!).
With a theme of ‘Time, Tide and Tectonics’, this year’s festival is celebrating everything to do with the sea and how our watery planet has changed (and it still changing) over time.
Seaweed scientist Professor Juliet Brodie tells us about the fantastic photos submitted through the Big Seaweed Search so far.
I’m fascinated by seaweeds and my research includes finding out about their diversity, and the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on their distribution. As part of this, I worked with my colleagues across the Museum to set up the Big Seaweed Search and I’m so pleased to see that lots of you have taken part and have sent your photos in for my research. I’ve just been exploring the first few months of data entered and I’m very excited by what I have seen so far.
In particular, the photographs people have uploaded are excellent as they enable me to tell very quickly whether a seaweed has been identified correctly or not – this is essential for me to be able to use the observations in my research.
Visiteering offers one day volunteering opportunities to the public, linking our Museum narratives to a series of set ‘challenges’ relating to our collections. On 20 October we completed our first collaborative Visiteering session to coincide with a worldwide transcription event run by WeDigBio.
WeDigBio, is a four day event that engages global participants online and onsite in digitising natural history collections. Although our main focus was our Visiteers in the lab for a day, we also encouraged other visitors to the museum to engage in the project via posters with QR codes and promoted a worldwide audience to get involved with blogposts and social media promotion prior, during and post event.
From 20-23 October, the Natural History Museum is taking part in the global WeDigBio event, which is all about digitising natural history collections around the world.
It will be a great opportunity to meet other natural history enthusiasts face-to-face (check out the event listing to find one near you, even if it isn’t here at the Museum), or engage with other volunteers online who will be helping us to transcribe specimen information, to set the data free!
Although our own hands-on Visiteering session during the WeDigBio event is now fully booked, you are welcome to register for the rest of our Visiteering scheme at any time.
The collection that we are profiling as part of WeDigBio focuses on a group of wasps called chalcids (pronounced ‘kal-sids’).
On Friday 30 September the Miniature Lives Magnified team joined our colleagues in the halls of the Museum in South Kensington for our annual festival, Science Uncovered.
The theme for this year’s event for European Researchers’ Night was Hidden Worlds – a perfect opportunity to invite folks to give our online The Killer Within Expedition a go, and to show off our chalcid wasps!
It was wonderful to meet with such a wide range of visitors, from children coming straight from school with their families, to young adults enjoying a date night with a beer in hand, and of course the full range of ages as Museum-goers enjoyed the chance to chat with all our scientists and learn more about their work.