ASWN Flukebook data platform ready for launch!

flukebook logo

The long-awaited regional data platform is ready for use!  After months of intense work to import and refine all of the functions required to deal with a large volume of cetacean survey sightings data from Oman, we are now ready for Arabian Sea research groups with ongoing research products and/or historical data comprising cetacean sightings and/or photographs to request accounts and begin uploading data.
Instructions for how to use the data platform can be found on a new page of our site dedicated to the ASWN Flukebook.  Two training videos demonstrating how matching and sighting searches can be conducted provide the best possible insight into how the platform works.

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:

  • computer vision algorithms

    Original research by the multi-institution Wildbook team (see wildbook.org) has created multiple methods of identifying individual humpback flukes repeatedly. Shown here is the CurvRank algorithm, which matches flukes based on their unique trailing edges. CurvRank is one of two algorithms used in Flukebook. Photos courtesy Wild Me

    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

Why Flukebook?

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 (<gianna.minton@gmail.com>) or Drew Blount (<drew@wildme.org>) with any questions or requests for additional information.