This Is What Social Software Can Do

HWC#2943 off Newfoundland, last seen in 1984.

The FlickrBlog reports this message from Gale:

People have been submitting good humpback whale fluke shots to a group called Humpback whale flukes. I volunteer at Allied Whale which holds the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and I was able to make a very exciting match with one of the whales that was posted on the group by GeorgeK.

George saw this whale in Newfoundland in the summer of 2005. It matched with HWC#2943 in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catolog ….. this whale was seen only once before in March 1984!!! on Silver Bank (the breeding grounds North of the Dominican Republic).

This is what flickr has the power to do.

update: Gale sent me a link to this photoset of her 1987 encounter with a two-year old humpback wale. Flickr wasn’t designed for naturalists or marine biologists, but it allowed her to share those photos, richly annotated with notes and descriptions, with the world. And because it creates opportunities for communication, it connected somebody who may not have been aware of how his photos contributed to the body of knowledge of whales with another passionate user who could piece it together.

The Allied Whale database doesn’t appear to be searchable online, but maybe whale watchers in Flickr should take advantage of the tagging feature to create a searchable database there?