ASWN Flukebook

flukebook logo

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.

How can I set up an account and start to use it?

ASWN members are all invited (and encouraged!) to use this tool to enter, archive and analyse their cetacean data.  Users will have complete control over their own data, which will not be viewable to other users. However, anyone using this new regional tool will be able

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 three algorithms used in Flukebook. Photos courtesy Wild Me

to initiate collaborations with other users through a simple process, supported by strong data-sharing agreements.  For example, research projects in neighbouring countries will be able to compare their humpback whale photo-identification catalogues without having to exchange large volumes of data or learn how to use each other’s cataloguing systems. 

Accounts will be created for each member organisation, and the administrator(s) in charge of that account will have full control over the visibility and sharing of their data, both with users representing their own organisations and/or those from other organizations. If you represent an organisation or research project with data to upload to the platform, you can request an account by emailing Drew Blount <drew@wildme.org>, and copying Gianna Minton <gianna.minton@gmail.com>.  Please specify who will be in charge of the administrator account, and which sub-accounts you would like to be created for individuals who will have sharing access to the organization’s data.

Wildme has created two training videos specifically for use with the ASWN Flukebook:

  1. A video demonstrating computer vision matching:  here
  2. A video demonstrating how to conduct geographical or species-based queries on cetacean survey data:  here.

Users with large datasets that would be easier to upload in bulk are invited to use the customized Excel bulk upload template created by Flukebook to handle large volumes of research data. There is also a streamlined version with fewer data fields for simpler datasets.  Please contact Gianna or Drew if you would like us to send you the uploader.

The development of the ASWN Flukebook data platform was made possible with generous contributions from the International Whaling commission, WWF International, Emirates Wildlife – WWF, and WWF Pakistan.