Whale Migration on Flickr
October 14, 2010 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Tail of a whale, snapped in 2 seas, reveals surprising wanderlust. "By scouring a photo-sharing website for tourists’ pictures of whales, a citizen scientist from Maine has helped to document a female humpback’s record-breaking 6,000-mile journey from Brazil to Madagascar. The remarkable voyage of whale number 1363 from one breeding ground to another is a scientific discovery for the social-networking age — a study made possible both by vacation photos posted on Flickr and an exhaustive library of photos of whales’ tails that scientists have built since the 1970s." [Via]
posted by homunculus (12 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This is just too awesome and is why I love the internet.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:23 PM on October 14, 2010

HOOOAAAAHHHHHH! Wales tales prince of Wales ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:29 PM on October 14, 2010

Imagine how awesome it would have been to actually have made said journey.

I sometimes wonder if other mammals look at us, like... "What the fuck are those stupid apes doing now? Look at that. He put some shit over his eyes, made it flash, and now he's sitting there looking at me, smiling like a dick. Oh look, he's staring at that light box shit again. Hello!? HELLO?! You have a boat! I'm going to Madagascar. You can come along and you don't even have to swim the whole damn way. You ever been to Madagascar?! 'Course not. Yep, their turning around. Must be their going home to stare at another light box."

Yes, as I type this the irony is not lost on me... thank you.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:30 PM on October 14, 2010 [9 favorites]

Crap, I was going to tie it in with this whale-related link.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:32 PM on October 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

A google search for "whale tail" turns up a bunch of stuff I expect many people would like to research. I expect these poor scientists had to filter out a lot of false positives from their search results.
posted by GuyZero at 5:55 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh dear.
posted by homunculus at 5:58 PM on October 14, 2010

I like that term; citizen scientist. I'll spread it around like herpes.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:06 PM on October 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

It is interesting whether this whale caught wunderlust and decided to go exploring or if she got lost or misdirected somehow.

I hope someone keeps an eye on her and sees if she ever retraces her steps or brings anyone else along with her! Well, here's to her surviving to have the opportunity, at least.
posted by porpoise at 7:44 PM on October 14, 2010

Given there are pretty okay face-recognizing algorithms these days, I bet training up an is-it-a-cetacean-or-a-butt-crack classifier wouldn't be all that hard.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:45 PM on October 14, 2010

Academic question: Why does the Norwegian automotive engineer get co-authorship of the paper, and not the citizen scientist from Maine who snooped out the photos?
posted by stargell at 7:49 PM on October 14, 2010

It's amazing to think that we could have known this a long time ago if there had only been a way of piecing the information together. I wonder how many other facts are sitting there in photos and videos, and are just waiting for a group of nerds to catalog them and say Aha!
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:29 PM on October 14, 2010

I went whale watching a couple of weeks ago here in Australia. I had my new DSLR camera on me, ready to click away.

We were on a medium-sized boat (a catamaran), looking around for a migrating whale for about 1 hour when one of them showed up (yes, out of the blue, literally).

Next thing I know, half an hour has gone by, the whale has finally dived after doing all manner of "tricks" (apparently they stay up longer during bad weather, or so I was told), and I haven't clicked a single photo. I don't think I am ever going to regret that.
posted by vidur at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2010

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