How to recognize a dolphin
I spent all of today and yesterday getting caught up on my backlog of video ID. It is rewarding, but also quite a demanding task. If you look at the above picture, you will see a typical still frame from the video I collect. It is of a dolphin passing quickly in front of the camera, and is the only glimpse I have of this individual to use for identification. As you can see, there is not much to go on in this picture. But if you look more closely, you will see a small black scar caused by a cookie cutter shark bite just behind the left pectoral fin. That is something at least! Unfortunately, dolphins seem to peppered with these scars, so the dolphin in this image could be any number of individuals in the database who have similar scars behind their pectoral fin. To really confirm who this dolphin is, I need more scar information to go on. Maybe a nick in the dorsal fin, or a scratch behind the eye. Often times I will spend a good chunk of time reviewing video clips and ID sketches to see if I can confirm who a dolphin (like the one in the above picture) is. It can be difficult, but if you do discover which dolphin you are looking at, it is a momentous occasion! Having reviewed all 11 videotapes that I’ve collected so far, I’ve managed to ID 120 individual dolphins! Yeah for that!