Home Science Biology Fluke-matcher: Humpback whales have their pictures taken

Australian scientists are excited about a new way to ID humpback whales. They have developed a computer program that identifies them through tail markings. It will help to better understand their behaviors, migration patterns, and other characteristics.


Dr. Daniel Burns and Dr. Peter Harrison, both from the Marine Ecology Research Centre at Southern Cross University (SCU, with its main campus in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia); and Dr. Eric Kniest, from the University of Newcastle (with its main campus in Callaghan, Newcastle, New South Wales) and also associated with SCU, are part of a larger team of Australian scientists involved in the humpback whale identification program.

The Australian Government funds the automated fluke identification program, called Fluke-matcher.

The ID program uses photogrammetric techniques in order to identify individual humpback whales.

The computer-aided program called Fluke-matcher has been developed to identify humpback whales through their tail markings.

Such a program is possible because humpback whales are intensively photographed throughout their territories.

Black-and-white pigmentation markings, along with various scratches and other identifying features, are found on the tail fluke of whales, or the tail of whales (whale tails).

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University