How can we improve our ability to identify an individual marine mammal?
Photo-ID forms the backbone of whale research all across the planet. One of the most common forms of photo-ID involves identifying a whale based upon the pattern on its fluke, or tail. However, there are some problems with identifying a whale based on this pattern.
With the new drone technologies that are available to us we have a photo-ID platform that is fast, accurate and mobile; and that potentially could be conducted from shore so that researchers wouldn’t even need a boat or crew.
So what one feature do all whales have which are at some point exposed to the air? Their blowholes.
The challenge of this hack will be to determine if and how we can ID whales based on their blowholes.
Part of the challenge here is that, whilst a whale tail will generally always look the same, the blowhole changes (opening and closing when the animal exhales and inhales). Questions need to be answered such as:
We will provide video footage showing whales exhaling, most images will be from above and just behind the whales but some will be from oblique angles.