Individual ID mark-recapture studies are critical to our understanding of marine mammals, yet gathering, processing and identifying individuals in images remains exceptionally labor and cost intensive. We present Wildbook, a web-based, open source software framework for mark-recapture studies (www.wildme.org/wildbook). Wildbook is a complementary software application that provides a scalable and collaborative platform for mark-recapture data management, with a workflow designed to expedite processing large datasets of images sourced from geographically dispersed teams of scientists and citizen scientists. Application to large whale studies started with the SPLASH North Pacific humpback whale photo-ID catalog (SplashCatalog.org), then progressed with GeneGIS (GeneGIS.org, OSU) developing tools for spatial analysis of genetics and photo-ID data. New development is focused on a unified workflow supporting image contribution, computer-assisted, automated, and crowdsourced processing and identification matching, and sharing between contributors and researchers (HappyWhale.com). We demonstrate a test application of this approach working with the long-term photographic identification efforts of Cascadia Research with blue, fin, and humpback whales on the US West Coast.
Holmberg, J., T. Cheeseman, J. Van Oast, K. Southerland, E. Falcone, J. Calambokidis. 2015. Wildbook: An Open Source Framework for Cetacean Mark-Recapture. Abstract (Proceedings) 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, California, December 14-18 2015.