Photo-identification or Photo ID is a powerful research technique used throughout the world on a wide range of species. It involves obtaining images of individual animals in an attempt to capture any unique markings which will help identify that individual in future. For example: humpback whales have unique marking on the underside of their tail flukes, right whales can be identified by the size and position of the callosities on their heads. Dolphins often have notches or markings on their dorsal fins which are permanent and can be used to recognise them over many years.
We are interested in obtaining images of whales and dolphins which might be suitable for photo-identification. Anybody with a reasonable camera and lens who obtains these images can contribute to our better understanding of whales and dolphins in Irish waters, by forwarding their original Jpegs to IWDG on details below.
You can help
In the case of dolphins, you should take photographs of their dorsal fins. With minke or fin whales a suite of images from the rostrum (head) along the flanks, including the dorsal fin and beyond to the caudal peduncle can show unique features. In the case of humpback whales, the ventral surface (underside) of their tail fluke which shows if they lift it into the air, will reveal unique scarring which can tell us at a glance whether a humpback is a new animal or one previously recorded in Irish waters. Either way, your images are potentially important and may assist greatly in our understanding of how these mammals use Irish waters.
Your images will only be used for research purposes and you will receive full acknowledgement as the image owner. We also hope that when you obtain an image that you'll take some time to go through our online photo ID catalogue to see if you can find a match with any of the species on our existing database (click here to search).