Have you ever seen a whale and wondered what it’s called? Thanks to research company HappyWhale, now you can.
HappyWhale has developed artificial intelligence (AI) software that allows users to identify individual whales. Even though whales don’t patiently pose for photos, this software can identify the exact whale you’re watching.
HappyWhale’s AI software quickly scans its database of more than 70,000 different whales in order to tell you the exact animal you were looking at. It can tell you the whale’s name, if it has already been given one, or invite you to choose one.
This system, called “WhaleID,” uses human facial recognition software tailored to identify each whale’s unique tail, which may have a distinctive shape, color or markings. According to Ted Cheeseman, whale conservationist and founder of HappyWhale, the AI is so effective that it can identify the whale even if its tail is rotated, curved or in the middle of a dive.
In addition to helping people feel a closer connection to each whale, HappyWhale uses all the data it gets from uploaded photos to help track whale numbers and movements. It’s an example of a growing trend: conservation groups using AI to allow members of the public to identify animals or birds.
So the next time you see a whale, remember that you can learn its name and history thanks to the wonder of artificial intelligence.