Become a Citizen Scientist

By joining Match My Whale, you will become part of a team of citizen scientists and help with 3 activities:

  • SPLASH scoring

  • Classifying

  • Matching

You will be using photos from existing humpback whale catalogs. You can also contribute to the catalogs by uploading your own photos of humpback whale flukes.


What is SPLASH scoring?

SPLASH scoring is a scoring system to assess the quality of a fluke photograph using different criteria. You can learn more about SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) scoring in the training section of this site once you've registered with Match My Whale. The SPLASH score is a numerical score that reflects the overall quality of the photograph and its suitability to be used for photo-ID purposes. There are 5 categories: the proportion of the tail that is visible in the photo, the angle of the photographer relative to the whale, the angle of the tail relative to the water’s surface, the sharpness of the image and the exposure of the image. The overall SPLASH score is the total of the scores in each category.

What is Classifying?

Classifying allows us to sort photos according to the pattern of black and white pigmentation on the flukes. For example, are the flukes mostly white with some black, or mostly black with some white? Classifying the flukes allows researchers to compare flukes of the same pigment type, eliminating many non-matches without actually comparing the photos.

What is Matching?

Matching is done after a photo has been classified and SPLASH scored. Matching is quite simply searching the catalog for photographs of the same whale that were taken at different times and/or in different locations. Matching a humpback whale photo-ID to a catalog of individuals requires good observational skills and patience. When matching or comparing photo-IDs, scientists focus on three particularly important features: pigmentation, distinctive marks (for example scars), and trailing edge shape. Have a look at this diagram to learn some important terms.

Fluke parts labeled

Are you ready? Sign up here