[MARMAM] New paper: "Novel method for identifying individual cetaceans using facial features and symmetry: A test case using dolphins"

Tilen Genov tilen.genov at gmail.com
Sat Oct 21 03:31:56 PDT 2017

​Dear colleagues

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new paper in Marine
Mammal Science:

Tilen GENOV, Tina CENTRIH, Andrew J. WRIGHT & Gi-Mick WU. 2017. *Novel
method for identifying individual cetaceans using facial features and
symmetry: A test case using dolphins*. *Marine Mammal Science*. DOI:


Individual identification plays a major role in our understanding of the
biology, ecology and behavior in cetaceans. Being able to tell individuals
apart can provide invaluable insight into basic biological and scientific
questions, but is also highly relevant to science-based conservation. Given
the importance of individual identification, it appears vital to improve
existing identification methods and find new ones. Here, we present a novel
identification method of using facial information, with common bottlenose
dolphins (*Tursiops truncatus*) as a case study. In dolphins, dorsal fins
are typically used for identification, but not all individuals or species
are sufficiently marked. We show that facial features in bottlenose
dolphins are long-term and consistent across the left and right sides, and
may enable calves (which tend to have unmarked fins) to be re-identified
after weaning, thus increasing cross-generational knowledge. This novel
method can complement dorsal fin identification by helping document mark
changes over time and reduce false negative or positive errors. It also
shows that current identification methods can still be improved. With
increasing prevalence of digital photography and computer-aided matching,
it may become more viable to use 'unconventional' means of identification.
We encourage other researchers to explore their photographic records for
similar discoveries.

The article is available from the journal website:

or from me: tilen.genov at gmail.com

Kind regards,

Tilen Genov

Tilen Genov
MRes Marine Mammal Science

Morigenos - Slovenian Marine Mammal Society
Kidricevo nabrezje 4
6330 Piran

PhD student
Sea Mammal Research Unit
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
United Kingdom

Department of Biodiversity
Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies
University of Primorska
Glagoljaska 8, 6000 Koper, Slovenia
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