What is the ASWN Flukebook?
ASWN has partnered with Wild Me to create an Arabian Sea regional whale and dolphin database. Flukebook.org was originally developed as an open-source online tool to assist with digital matching of humpback whale and sperm whale tail fluke images, using Computer Vision matching technology. This video demonstrates how that technology works. While Flukebook started as a platform to facilitate photo-identification, the collaboration with ASWN and other research groups such as the Indian Ocean Network for Cetacean Research (Indocet) has allowed Flukebook to expand and improve, adding elements that allow archiving and analysis of almost every type of data collected during the course of directed cetacean research including:
the date, time, location, species, group composition, behaviour, and human activities associated with a whale or dolphin sighting of any species;
- Photographs suitable for individual identification (tail flukes, dorsal fins), along with associated data on photo quality and distinctiveness, required to filter data for mark-recapture analyses;
- Data on genetic sampling and satellite tagging of individual whales;
- Filtering and export functions that allow users to analyse data geographically, temporally, by species or any other data field, and export results for mapping, mark-recapture analyses, or other uses
ASWN chose to partner with Wild Me in large part because Flukebook is an open- source platform used by multiple cetacean research teams around the globe. Through these collaborations, Flukebook is constantly improving and updating the features it offers. For example, the Indian Ocean Network for Cetacean Research (Indocet) is also using Flukebook for its regional humpback whale photo-identification data platform. Close collaboration between the ASWN and Indocet has allowed joint development of new features and improvements, many of which will become available in the coming months. Research teams working with other species, such as bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, and right whales are also helping to foster the development of new computer vision matching algorithms for these species.
ASWN was also impressed at the level of data security offered by Wild Me and the Flukebook team. While the data platform is designed to facilitate collaboration and comparison of data through the use of a common online data platform, users who upload data retain complete control of that data. Data that a user has uploaded will be invisible to other users unless a collaboration has been initiated, backed by clear data sharing agreements.
We look forward to this next phase of regional collaboration. Please feel free to contact Gianna Minton (<firstname.lastname@example.org>) or Drew Blount (<email@example.com>) with any questions or requests for additional information.