Flukebook: Where people, machine learning, and animals connect

Flukebook is a free, online resource, established to strengthen the global conservation of whales and dolphins. A catalyst for collaboration, Flukebook enables researchers to manage, share, analyze and archive data via pioneering, user friendly software. Flukebook unites researchers, conservationists and citizen scientists, enables connections with individual animals, and provides robust data to inform conservation of marine mammals and their habitats.

Why use Flukebook?

No researcher or whalewatcher is equipped to traverse the vast distances required to study marine mammals consistently and without gaps. Flukebook's powerful data management, photo matching algorithms and analysis tools, consolidates existing research and connects data to provide oceanic and global scale information for researchers and conservation groups.

For the first time, Flukebook provides a place for researchers, conservationists and citizen scientists to work together to fill the gaps in our knowledge of these incredible species.

What does Flukebook do?

Flukebook uses photographs of flukes , dorsal fins, and scars to distinguish between individual animals. Identify your fluke in as few as three clicks - rapid identification is achieved using pattern recognition and photo management technology. Anyone can contribute to Flukebook. All you need is to submit your photos and any other sighting information and Flukebook can do the rest. Soon, you will even be able to follow an individual whale, find out who she is friends with, where she goes, and who has seen her lately

Manage and backup your data

Import your photos and sightings data in many common picture formats and from common photo-management tools like Facebook and Flickr. Once imported, you can view your sightings online, follow individuals you have identified, add metadata, manage individual data, and use all the other Flukebook features. Having your data in Flukebook also serves as a free backup service.

Researchers control their own data

Researchers keep full ownership and control access to their data in Flukebook. Permission settings allow you to choose who has access to your data and allows for easy collaboration between groups. Flukebook can be used within organizations to allow web-based access to data and matching without sharing any data beyond your organization. Multiple team members, in multiple locations, on multiple computers can all work on the same dataset at the same time.

Flukebook enables collaboration when photoidentification matches are made. The potential match list will be redacted if your sharing is turned off. You will be able to see that your individuals potentially match other datasets, but you cannot access the data until both data owners agree to privately and reciprocally share access. By doing this, Flukebook allows for the simple compilation of datasets for multi-institutional collaborative projects.

Analysis tools

Flukebook provides tools for managing photoidentification, molecular sampling, and sightings databases and includes a growing number of features to help users work with additional software by linking to external programs, including ArcGIS, SOCPROG, Genepop, GenAIEx, WinBugs, and Google Earth.

Archive: saving information for the future

Collecting animal identification data takes enormous time, effort and funding, and can also impact the animals over time. We believe these data provide invaluable records about the oceans and should be preserved for future generations. A generation from now, how will these populations have changed? Will your data be available to help answer new questions about socio-ecology, haplotype evolution, and ocean scale change by the next generation of marine mammologists? To support this, Flukebook's data can be exported in a number of formats and its infrastructure for archiving identification datasets will be stored on servers in the cloud.

Build networks and strengthen research

All photographic, location, and supplementary data, once imported to Flukebook, are in the same format. This feature, together with the ability to share your data privately with specific collaborators, overcomes one of the major hurdles to combining disparate, international datasets. This makes Flukebook a powerful tool for researchers looking for collaborators, prospective graduate students, conservation groups looking for data to help advocacy goals, government developing management plans, and people hoping to change the world.