Thursday, September 16, 2010

Photo-ID Workshop for NECWA Interns

On August 1, some of the NECWA interns met at Krill's house for a photo-identification workshop. Attending this workshop included NECWA intern Tammy, Shaya, Kelly, Michael and Theo. Unable to make this meeting was Tobias, Nick and Tiffany.

The first order of business was to have dinner and catch up on all the news offshore. Lots of fun chatting over pizzas, hummus, salsa and chips and fresh fruit. Once everyone was full and Michael finished his juggling act (And an impressive one at that!), Krill lead the workshop that reviewed the basics of photo-identification (or photo-ID for short) and how it is applied to research on baleen whales, especially humpback whales.

Over the course of the evening, interns learned how to do their own photo-analysis using the photographs they collect when working as research assistants aboard Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tour vessels (

NECWA would like to take this moment to send a special thank you to Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours for collaborating with us on our Marine Wildlife Internship Program. Over the course of the season, Captain John provides two free tickets each day for our NECWA interns. This allows interns to see amazing sights offshore including a variety of coastal marine wildlife. NECWA interns join paying passengers offshore by collecting their own sighting data and by assisting with educational outreach when offshore.

Thanks so much to the staff, captains and crew of Captain John Boats, for your assistance is helping to make the NECWA internship program meaningful, comprehensive and "one of a kind."

As afternoon passed into evening, the NECWA interns learned how to analyze their own photographs in an effort to identify individual humpback whales. When their analysis is complete, they will be asked to communicate and send their data to researchers at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS). PCCS will integrate NECWA data into their main database on humpback whales. This information is then shared with Allied Whale, a nonprofit located in Bar Harbor, ME. Allied Whale is the clearinghouse for all humpback whales in the waters of the Gulf of Maine.

After the workshop, each NECWA intern met with Krill on a one-on-one basis to go over their photo-ID analysis. In the images below, Theo works to crop his original digital images of humpback dorsal fins and tails (flukes). The next step is to match unknown humpback tails to known individuals in one of the humpback fluke catalogs. Nice job Theo!

Congratulations and job well done all of our NECWA interns! We thank you for volunteering your time this season and wish you all good luck at college and grad school. All of our NECWA interns have indicated that they want to return next season. We would be honored to continue to work with these fabulous young people who bring so much joy to our lives and who worked so hard for the benefit of the whales and other marine wildlife that share this planet with us.

We look forward to another successful season of whales, whale watching and marine wildlife viewing in general. And we look forward to another great season working with our interns who are dedicated and determined to make this world a better place!