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Identifying Individual Bowhead Whales Through Aerial Photography. Supporting organizations. National Marine Mammal Laboratory , Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Service, Seattle, Washington LGL , Ltd. Environmental Research Assoc., King City, Ontario, Canada

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Presentation Transcript
supporting organizations
Supporting organizations
  • National Marine Mammal Laboratory,

Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Service,

Seattle, Washington

  • LGL, Ltd.

Environmental Research Assoc., King City, Ontario, Canada

  • North Slope Borough,

Dept. of Wildlife Management, Barrow, Alaska

  • Minerals Management Service,

Environmental Studies Program, Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Region, Anchorage, Alaska

  • Cascadia Research Collective,

Olympia, Washington

available images of bowheads
There are currently over 17,000 images of bowhead whales in collections archived at LGL and NMML.

Over the past 30 years, aerial surveys have been conducted mostly near Point Barrow during the spring migration and in the Beaufort Sea in summer.

Available images of bowheads
15 5 m

Whale lengths

Whale images are measured for length and corrected relative to camera lens, aircraft altitude (calibrated), and any known photogrammetric biases.

15.5 m

growth of individual whales
Growth of individual whales
  • Calves are 4.75 - 5.0 m long in May,

and 6.25 - 6.5 m long by October.

  • Yearlings in May are 6.5 - 8.0 m long.
  • Small whales (~9.5 m) grow 22 - 44 cm/yr.
  • Medium size (~12 m) grow 12 - 15 cm/yr.
  • Large whales (~15 m) grow 0 - 5 cm/yr.
four zones used to categorize areas on a bowhead image
Four zones used to categorize areas on a bowhead image

Rostrum zone

(1)

Mid-back

zone

(2)

Lower-back

zone

(3)

Fluke zone

(4)

identifiability by zones
Identifiability by zones

Rostrum zone

unmarked

(U-)

Lower-back zone (H+)

Fluke zone

(H+)

Mid-back zone

(U+)

Large, fairly distinctive mark

Large, non- distinctive mark

One medium not unique mark

image quality
Image quality

Rostrum zone

is quality 1+

(= clearly visible)

Lower-back zone is quality 2+

(= adequately visible)

Fluke zone is quality 1+ (=clearly visible)

Mid-back zone is quality 2+

Some of this zone is obscured by splash

computer assisted matching program
Computer-assisted matching program
  • Because the number of photos in the catalog has been growing, it is becoming necessary to increase matching efficiency through a computer program that prioritizes most likely matches.
applications of results from bowhead photo identification
Applications of results from bowhead photo-identification
  • Abundance estimates
  • Growth rates of individual whales
  • Calving intervals
  • Population dynamics
  • Stock structure
slide15
Survival probability is remarkably high for bowheads (0.95 to almost 1.00); some bowheads live for over a century