Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Identifying dolphins with technology

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
Dick Jones Communications
Summary:
A student-developed computer program simplifies the process of manual photo identification of bottlenose dolphins and other species.

Dolphins all look pretty similar. So it can be problematic when your job requires you to identify individual dolphins in order to study their behavioral and ecological patterns.
Credit: petrock / Fotolia

Dolphins all look pretty similar. So it can be problematic when your job requires you to identify individual dolphins in order to study their behavioral and ecological patterns. Photo-identification techniques -- recognizing a particular dolphin by the nicks, scars and notches on its dorsal fin -- are useful, but tedious.

Related Articles


"Researchers photograph dolphins in their natural surroundings and compare new dorsal fin photographs against a catalogue of previously identified dolphins," explains Kelly Debure, professor of computer science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. "These catalogs are often organized into categories based on either distinct fin shape or location of predominant damage. The manual photo-identification process, although effective, is extremely time consuming and visually stressful, particularly with large collections of known dolphins."

It was time to bring dolphin identification into the digital age.

Debure, along with Eckerd students, developed DARWIN, or Digital Analysis and Recognition of Whale Images on a Network, a computer program that simplifies photo-identification of bottlenose dolphins by applying computer vision and signal processing techniques to automate much of the tedious manual photo-id process.

"DARWIN is a software system which has been developed to support the creation of reliable and intuitive image database queries using fin outlines," she says. "It effectively performs registration of image data to compensate for the fact that the photographs are taken from different angles and distances and compares digital images of new dorsal fins with a database of previously identified fins."

The software uses an automated process to create a tracing of the fin outline, which is then used to formulate a sketch-based query of the database. The system utilizes a variety of image processing and computer vision algorithms to perform the matching process that identifies those previously cataloged fins which most closely resemble the unknown fin. The program ranks catalog fin images from "most like" to "least like" the new unknown fin image and presents images for side by side comparison.

DARWIN is used by researchers at several academic institutions and by Eckerd College's own Dolphin Project, a team of students who conduct population surveys of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Initiated in 1993, the project has trained dozens of students to take and analyze scientific data on dolphin populations to better understand their population dynamics and ecology in Tampa Bay. Such information can be used to help conserve dolphin populations.

The DARWIN software is free and available for download. Over 20 years, Debure and Eckerd students have continued to refine the software and are adapting the software's algorithms to make it appropriate for identification of other species.

"Although it was originally developed for use with bottlenose dolphins, it has been used by research groups on related species such as fin whales, indo-pacific humpback dolphins, spinner dolphins, and basking sharks," she says.

With this technological help, researchers can spend more time doing their job.

"Answering the question, "Which dolphin is that?" is not that scientifically interesting," says Debure. "With DARWIN, researchers can spend less time identifying animals and more time doing the real science."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dick Jones Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dick Jones Communications. "Identifying dolphins with technology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731201136.htm>.
Dick Jones Communications. (2012, July 31). Identifying dolphins with technology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731201136.htm
Dick Jones Communications. "Identifying dolphins with technology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731201136.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins