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Fin whale

Short and cruel hunt season ends in Iceland

The shortened Icelandic fin whale hunts season has finished with a final total of 23...
Bottlenose dolphins breaching

Landmark report reveals UK wildlife’s devastating decline

With whales and dolphins already facing many threats, a landmark report released this week reveals...
Dolphins with oil rig

Go ahead for new UK oil and gas exploration threatens whales and dolphins

Permission has been granted for the development of the UK's biggest untapped oilfield off Shetland,...
Icelandic hunting vessels in port

Whaling boat kept in port after more hunt cruelty exposed

Icelandic whale hunting fleet One of the whaling boats involved in the latest hunts in...

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.