Photo-Identification is a non-invasive scientific method of recognising individual animals using natural markings on the body of an animal, often though not exclusively, the dorsal fin. The catalogue is split into three sub-catalogues: individuals that can be recognised from a photo of either side of the dorsal fin (due to having nicks on the trailing edge of the dorsal fin), called well-marked individuals, individuals that can only be recognised from photos of the right hand side of the fin (no nicks visible, but will contain obvious patterns and scars on the fin) and those that can only be recognised from photos of the left hand side of the fin. Photo ID can tell us which individuals are returning to Manx waters, at what time of the year they are seen, how often they are seen here and who they are associating with.

Collaboration with other organisations can tell us whether individuals have been observed in different areas around the British Isles and beyond. In April 2015, ‘Marine Discovery Penzance’ a research organisation in Cornwall, photographed a Risso’s dolphin which we were able to recognise from a photo taken in Manx waters in 2014, a distance of over 300 miles. These photo’s are of ‘General Muck’, number 1 in our Risso’s dolphin well-marked catalogue. He has been seen in Manx waters every year from 2007-2013. Has been seen more often than any other individual, a total of 19 times. We currently have photo-ID catalogues for Risso’s dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Short beaked common dolphin and Minke whale from 2007. If you would like to view our catalogues please get in touch.