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Third orca death in 18 months at theme park

Loro Parque tourist attraction in Tenerife, Spain has announced the death of Kohana, a 20-year-old...

WDC’s Shorewatch work shortlisted for nature award

We are thrilled that our Shorewatch programme has been shortlisted in the Citizen Science category...
Image from one of the WDC Risso's dolphin research catalogues

Local community helps piece together Risso’s dolphin puzzle

Thousands of photographs from members of the public have been published today in two WDC...

Tesco joins new initiative to help protect whales and dolphins

Tesco, the UK's largest retailer has joined WDC, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), and the Royal Society...

New study uses facial recognition to identify dolphins

For many years, the leading non-invasive way to identify whales and dolphins has been to use photo-identification. Some markings on certain parts of their bodies, such as tail flukes in some species or dorsal fin in others, can remain largely unchanged throughout their lives which enables scientists to closely follow the lives of individuals.

A new study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science has shown that facial recognition can also play a part in identification after scientists carried out tests to see if people could identify dolphins using this method alone. Not only was it successful but identification was possible when comparing one side of the face with the other.

The authors believe that while this method of identification cannot replace traditional photo-id techniques, it might be complementary in helping to identify individuals in certain species which lack characteristics such as an large dorsal fin, or young calves which have yet to pick up any identifiable markings.

Novel method for identifying individual cetaceans using facial features and symmetry: A test case using dolphins
Tilen Genov, Tina Centrih, Andrew J. Wright, Gi-Mick Wu
Marine Mammal Science

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.