< Cetaceans sighting database


I don't remember my password

Change my data


Photo Gallery


World Cetacean Alliance







This site is a tool that facilitates sharing photo-identification data (Photo ID) of individuals and associations of any cetacean species, anywhere in the world. As a person interested in animals, or representing any organization, you are welcome to contribute/access such data, enjoy the photographs and learn from the information they provide.

Cetaceans are distinguished individually by marks on different parts of their bodies. Humpback or sperm whales are identified by those on their tail or caudal fin, taking photos when the animals raise it out of the water before a dive. Dolphins, pilot whales, killer-whales, blue whales (large baleen whales of the family Balaenopteridae) etc. are distinguished by notches on the dorsal fin. Beaked whales (about 20 species of Ziphiidae) have scars all over their body, which remain for years and permit recognition. Identifying individuals is useful for many kinds of studies, in particular providing a base for the statistical estimates of population size in a particular area. Knowing how many animals there are in a local population is important, for instance to monitor whether the abundance increases, decreases or remains relatively stable, and the possible relationship of these changes with potential human impact factors (pollution, hunting, noise, collisions with boats, etc).

foto de cola de cachalote

PhotoID provides data on the stability of social bonds between individuals, their territorial fidelity and movement between areas. These can be long-distance migrations or simple movements between the islands of an archipelago. To quantify a population, it is important to know if individuals listed in an area are being counted twice, in neighboring areas, as this would make us overestimate the population, with important consequences for the management of the species. Sharing Photo ID data is the cheapest and least invasive way method to find out if this is happening. It is also ethical, if we have bothered a whale in photographing it we should extract the maximum information from such data to aid in conservation of the species.




If you just want to enjoy the photos or learn by browsing, simply go to the link "View photos" at the top of the page or in the column on the left and search by area, species, date, sex/age, or by combinations thereof.

If you also want to add your own sightings, you must register in the "collaborate" menu, and follow the instructions. The steps are basically: provide a username (your e-mail), password, your sighting area and other details, and then start entering data and enjoy analyzing them together with other people's. Please upload only good quality photos (maximum: 500 Kb) with an acceptable resolution (at least 800x600). The top menu permits you enter, modify, delete, or examine the data.

You can only change the data for individuals and sightings that you yourself have added, and we ask that you please let us know before using those of other contributors/groups in publications or technical reports. We will gradually expand the functions of Cetabase, as long as we have the time and energy. Hope you enjoy it and that sharing sightings, observations and photos of cetaceans will benefit the conservation of these magnificent marine mammals.