Protocols and Procedures of the SHBWC

This forum facilitate communication among SHBWC users on specific and/or technical aspects of the use of the software. It may also include examples of difficulties find by users and the respective solution, It also includes, as well as new features and improvements to the software.
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Protocols and Procedures of the SHBWC

Postby admin » Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:35 pm

The Southern Hemisphere Blue Whale Catalogue (SHBWC) is an international collaborative effort to improve knowledge on southern hemisphere blue whales by comparing photo identification catalogues among different researchers and institutions.

Specially designed software facilitates the sharing process of simultaneous catalogues of individual blue whales. It allows to host several blue whale catalogues and to make inter-regional comparisons.

Currently, major contributions of photographs have been received and comparisons made among different regions in the Southern Hemisphere. The results of these comparisons will improve understanding of basic questions relating to blue whale populations, such as defining population boundaries, migratory routes and model abundance estimates. To date, they have provided interesting results on long-term resightings.

Any researcher or institution working on photo identification of blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere is welcome to contribute to the SHBWC. Contributions of opportunistic photo-identifications are also welcome.


Blue Whale Researchers/Institutions

Researchers that works with blue whales in southern Hemisphere and are interested in contributing their photo-identification catalogues to the SHBWC, they should contact the administrator at to inquire about the process.

A data sharing agreement and terms of references will be forwarded to interested contributors. Once a signed copy of the data sharing agreement and terms of references is received, basic information regarding contact details and geographic research area will be requested by the catalogue curator (Centro de Conservacion Cetacea).Contributor’s contact details will also be forwarded to the regional coordinator of the contributor’s geographic research area.

Contributors will first receive a basic user ID and password (researcher user) that will allow them to upload and manage their own photo-identification catalogue. Upgraded access will only be granted to those who contribute photos, therefore after uploading all their catalogues contributors must notify the catalogue curator. An upgraded user ID and password (chief researcher user) will be granted and will allow contributors access to all whales included in the SHBWC, to be able to compare photographs and make matching suggestions between different catalogues.

When a match is found, catalogue owners will be contacted and informed of the finding by email. The information will be used for publication after approval of use is obtained, except in the context of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), when the information may be able to be used in unpublished papers that contribute to the Committee work (IWC Data availability agreement).

Opportunistic contributors

People interested in contributing their blue whale photographs to this international collaborative effort are welcome to submit their photographs to, along with information on date and location of the whales.

Each region has “opportunistic” catalogue in Southern Hemisphere. Contributed opportunistic photographs will be uploaded to these catalogues and the contributor’s name will be associated to the WhaleID record. If any match is found, the contributor will be informed by email of the finding and will be acknowledge in any future publication that refers to the match.

Uploading Catalogues

Contributors to the catalogue that have been granted a user ID will be able to directly upload their photos to their catalogues. Alternatively, if they do not have time to do so, they may wish to request the SHBWC curator to upload their catalogues on their behalf.

Only the best left, right and fluke photos for each whaleID with its associated data should be uploaded. Additional photographs that will complement the whaleID are also welcome.

If contributors have photographs from multiple geographic areas (for example Antartica and Eastern South Pacific), they should clearly state that the moment their user ID is created, to be able to upload photographs on different areas. In case they have requested SHBWC curator to upload their catalogues, they should submit the photos and associated data organized by geographic regions.

Matching Process

One or more experienced matchers are appointed to be responsible for all comparisons. Multiple matchers, as long as experienced, have the advantage of the work being conducted by someone if others have commitments.

An agreement between research groups, matchers, and the appropriate regional SHBWC coordinator is developed in order to determine e.g. what photos will be matched, time frame, and scheduled check-in to assess progress.

Regional Coordinators

The work of all regional coordinators is in-kind. The role of regional coordinators is:
1) to persuade blue whale groups to contribute to the SHBWC,
2) to update contributors with any news, reports, finding, advances, modifications, etc. and any other development of the SHBWC,
3) to encourage contributors to upload their catalogues,
4) to appoint, in consultation with other contributors from the region, one or more persons to conduct the matching process and keep track of comparisons, and
5) to participate in working groups, conferences, etc. in order to facilitate any development needed to improve the work of the SHBWC and propose solutions to any challenge faced. Usually the regional coordinator engages in discussions with all the contributors from the region in order to reach any agreement, receive comments, etc.

At least once a year, the regional coordinators from different areas engage in email discussions in order to submit progress report to IWC, communicate the advances on the different regions and propose solutions to any problem encounter, among others.

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