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Where the general public and Science join forces
to research Norwegian orcas


Norwegian Orca ID is the short for the Norwegian killer whale (orca) photo-identification project, which aims at cataloguing and monitoring individual killer whales overtime. Individual identification relies on natural features of the dorsal fin and the saddle patch.


Photo-identification studies of Norwegian killer whales were initiated by colleagues in the late 1980s but were interupted in 2008. After Norwegian Orca Survey (non-profit research organization in Norway) initiated a research effort dedicated to monitor killer whales' biology and ecology in all seasons in 2013, photo-identification surveys were resumed and have been conducted each year and in all seasons since. Identifying killer whales at the individual level and keeping track of what whale was seen, where, when and with whom provides the baseline information needed to understand the life history of and monitor this killer whale population. The resulting ID-Catalogue has been the absolute foundation of multiple past and ongoing studies.


During the last few years, interest in whales has grown enormously in Norway. In response to such growing curiosity, and to raise awareness of this top-predator, Norwegian Orca Survey decided to make the ID-catalogue available to everyone. Sharing the catalogue was also a way to invite the general public to contribute their photographs and to take part in the project, an approach known as ‘Citizen-Science’. This website teaches about photo-identification, presents a catalogue of individual killer whales identified in Norwegian waters from 2007 to date and provides a platform for easy upload of killer whale photographs for anyone wanting to contribute to the ID-project.











The NORWEGIAN ORCA ID project was established to bound Science and the general public. By teaching about photo-identification and by providing an interface for easy sharing and upload of killer whale photographs, this platform aims at promoting Citizen-Science. Anyone can share their high-resolution photographs of killer whale dorsal fins, accompanied with information on date and location of where the photos were taken. These will be analysed to identify the individuals encountered, and the resulting data (what whale was seen, where and when) will serve to expand the sighting histories of specific individuals and the overall catalogue. In other words, all photographs taken during encounters with killer whales tell amazing stories about them, starting with who, where, when and with whom. By contributing photographs to
the project, people become citizen-scientists and are getting directly involved in this fascinating longterm study.
Resulting findings are published in open access academic journals for everyone to read.

Get involved today by submitting your killer whale photographs!


First, recording when and where killer whales were seen is a non-invasive way to monitor individuals' movement and ranging behavior in Norwegian waters, informing about their ecology. Second, photo-identification offers a means to record births and individuals' survival overtime. Such detailed demographic data can then be processed using various statistical tools to estimate population size, as well as survival, reproduction and growth rates. These demographic parameters will help monitoring and track changes in population size, to further inform management decisions and promote effective conservation of killer whales in Norway.

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