Google Play icon

NOAA Fisheries Steller Sea Lion Population Count

Posted July 15, 2017

Steller sea lions in the western Aleutian Islands have declined 94 percent in the last 30 years. The endangered western population, found in the North Pacific, are the focus of conservation efforts which require annual population counts. Specially trained scientists at NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center conduct these surveys using airplanes and unoccupied aircraft systems to collect aerial images. Having accurate population estimates enables us to better understand factors that may be contributing to lack of recovery of Stellers in this area.

Currently, it takes biologists up to four months to count sea lions from the thousands of images NOAA Fisheries collects each year. Once individual counts are conducted, the tallies must be reconciled to confirm their reliability. The results of these counts are time-sensitive.

In this competition, Kagglers are invited to develop algorithms which accurately count the number of sea lions in aerial photographs. Automating the annual population count will free up critical resources allowing NOAA Fisheries to focus on ensuring we hear the sea lion’s roar for many years to come. Plus, advancements in computer vision applied to aerial population counts may also greatly benefit other endangered species.

Learn more about research being done to better understand what’s going on with the endangered Steller sea lion populations by joining scientists on a research vessel to the western Aleutian Islands in the video below.


  • June 20, 2017 – Entry deadline. You must accept the competition rules before this date in order to compete.
  • June 20, 2017 – Team Merger deadline. This is the last day participants may join or merge teams.
  • June 27, 2017 – Final submission deadline.

All deadlines are at 11:59 PM UTC on the corresponding day unless otherwise noted. The competition organizers reserve the right to update the contest timeline if they deem it necessary.

Judging Criteria: Lowest Root Mean Square Error

The aim of the competition is to count each type of steller sea lion in each photo. See the Data tab for more details.

Your submission file should have the following format:


Your submissions will be evaluated by their RMSE from the human-labelled ground truth, averaged over the columns.

How to Enter

You will first have to create an account on

You can select up to 2 submissions to be used to calculate your final leaderboard score. If 2 submissions are not selected, they will be chosen based on your best submission scores on the public leaderboard.

Your final score will not be based on the same exact subset of data as the public leaderboard, but rather a different private data subset of your full submission —your public score is only a rough indication of what your final score is.

You should thus choose submissions that will most likely be best overall, and not necessarily on the public subset.

You may submit algorithms on the Submit Predictions page. You may have up to 5 submissions per day.

File Format

Your submission should be in CSV format. You can upload this in a zip/gz/rar/7z archive, if you prefer.

Number of Predictions

We expect the solution file to have 18636 prediction rows. This file should have a header row. Please see sample submission file on the data page.


Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
86,032 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. Universe is a Sphere and Not Flat After All According to a New Research (November 7, 2019)
  2. NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa (November 19, 2019)
  3. How Do We Colonize Ceres? (November 21, 2019)
  4. This Artificial Leaf Turns Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel (November 8, 2019)
  5. Scientists created a wireless battery free computer input device (December 1, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email