Help and FAQ

Happywhale.com is a resource to help you know whales as individuals, and to benefit conservation science with rich data about individual whales. If you have a question or problem that is not answered here, please contact us.

How do I upload files?

  1. Go to the Submit Images page

  2. Give us your name and email address (we will create an account for you using this email address)

  3. (optional) select or write in the name of the boat you were on

  4. Upload a full day’s worth of media. There is no file size or number limit, though large uploads will take a long time. You do not need to edit; we will discard images that are not of interest.

    • IMAGES: Please do not crop or downsize images; full resolution images work much better with our automated ID systems. We prefer jpeg but can accept raw images.
    • VIDEO: Please edit to short clips.
    • OTHER MEDIA: We can accept gps files in KML format. We are also interested in other media you may have, like acoustic hydrophone recordings.
  5. After completing the upload, you will receive an email confirmation. We will process uploaded files and look for animals we can identify. We will notify you of what we find. We will also tell you any stories we know about the animals we find, and will notify you of future encounters with the animals you have seen. Thank you for contributing!

What species are we interested in?

Currently we are focused on Humpback Whales, but expect to add other whale species in the near future. When you contribute images of other species, we archive them so that in the future we can expand our studies and identify individuals (and notify you of matches).

What will we do with contributed media?

We will try to identify any recognizable individual animals in your pictures, and will notify you of what we find. This is a multi-step process that could be very quick (as short as a few hours) or very extended (sometimes we have to compare images manually against known animal catalogs, a process that can take many months). We will share the data that comes from your photos with collaborating scientists. Please note our Terms & Conditions below for conditions and copyright agreements as they apply to all media submissions.

How do we identify individual animals?

Humpback Whales have individually distinct markings on their flukes (tails), both in the pigmentation of theunderside surface, and in shape, especially the trailing edge. Since the 1970s, scientists have been using these patterns to resight individual whales — for a discussion of the matching process, see a discussion of matching. Manual matching is very time-intensive, so we are automating this process with computer algorithms. First we must separate the whale from the background, so that we are matching the fluke patterns rather than random details in the background. To help us do this, we have created a crowd-sourcing Zooniverse project Whales as Individuals, where volunteers mark key points on the fluke to help our algorithms find patterns

How can I participate?

  • Contribute any whale photos you have taken (please only share images you have rights to)
  • Participate in our Zooniverse project Whales as Individuals
  • Share links to content you like, to get friends involved
  • Tell us what you think and what you’d like to see.

More questions? contact us