Whale identification program makes matching no fluke

Humpback whale fluke (Photo: Sarah Robinson)

A computer program developed by a team of Australian scientists will help identify individual humpback whales through their tail markings.

The project to develop the program was funded by the Australian Marine Mammal Centre.

The program is based on a comprehensive database of humpback fluke photographs, and uses different characteristics of whale flukes, including markings, size, pigmentation and scratches.

The program stores this information, and takes the difficulty out of manually trying to match images of whale flukes.

When a search is done on a photograph, the program produces a list of likely matching whale flukes, ranked from most likely, to least likely.

It is hoped the program, called Fluke-matcher, will eventually store data and images from around the world, and lead to a better understanding of whale migration and behaviour patterns.

This page was last updated on 30 August 2010