The IndoCet Consortium and Wild Me have been working for several years on the development of Flukebook, an online platform for automatic comparison of humpback whale tail photos. This digital platform will allow IndoCet members to store and compare their humpback whale tail photo identifications with the support of artificial intelligence software.
One of the Consortium's priority actions is to study the structure and abundance of humpback whale populations on a regional scale in the southwestern Indian Ocean. The structure of a population can be studied using many techniques, including natural markers (photo-identification and genetics) and satellite monitoring. These techniques provide information on connectivity between breeding and feeding sites, and have proven to be powerful tools for abundance estimates. Extensive databases have been created and updated in the region over the last 10 years, particularly with regard to photo-identification catalogs, but few inter-regional comparisons have been carried out.
One of the biggest challenges in comparing these humpback whale caudal catalogs is the amount of data, especially since they belong to different agencies and are located throughout the SWOI. Consortium members believe that the best way to make these comparisons is to develop and use the same online comparison platform.
Flukebook is an online platform that provides powerful tools to researchers for scientific analysis and regional collaborations. Researchers have access to data management tools, algorithms to automatically compare photos, a common photo catalog, capture-recapture analysis software, and genetic and socio-ecological studies. In terms of research, data sharing is done on a peer-to-peer basis, on the basis of mutual consent. Flukebook allows for unifying and uniting data, filling gaps in species distribution, individual movements, social ties, and genetic structure.
The collaboration between IndoCet and Wild Me has enhanced the Flukebook platform and adapted it to the needs of the Consortium to facilitate collaborations between members.
While Flukebook is based on the Wildbook platform technology developed by WildMe, its “customized" version for IndoCet will allow regional ownership of its features.
Improvements to the platform are funded for the Consortium by the Indian Ocean Commission and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).