new Master thesis

We are pleased to announce that two master theses have been completely with data / supervision of Heike Vester / Ocean Sounds and supervision of Sarah Hallerberg / MPI.
Thank you Burooj and Felipe for your hard work!!

Master of Science Thesis “Applied Computer Science” 15.10.2015
Towards Automated Photo Identification of Killer Whales
by Burooj Ghani,
Department of Computational Neuroscience, Third Institute of Physics – Biophysics,
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen.

Identifying individual animals is essential for studying social structures and behavior in groups
of animals. Photo Identification is the standard method used for the identification of animals
including marine mammals. In this master thesis we develop an automatic classification system
to classify different individuals of killer whales from pictures of their dorsal fins. The main
steps include extracting the shape of the fins, modeling the shape by smooth curves, registering
the curves, extracting features from the curves and finally classify the individual killer whales
based upon these extracted features. To match the partial requirements for fin identification we
develop a new approach for curve registration. We extract different features that describe the
fins and use them for classification with support vector machines. To infer the success of our
classifier we explore different scenarios of test and training data set and different combinations of
pre-classifier and classifier. We find that the classification success depends to a large extent on
the curve registration method. Comparing the classification success to the accuracy of human
classifiers, we find that the algorithm is better than an average untrained human classifier and has
an accuracy comparable to a trained human classifier.

“Distribution of cetaceans in Ves1jorden, Norway, and possible impacts of seismic surveys”
Master thesis by Felipe Matos, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, University of Nordland
May 2015

Vestfjorden is an important feeding and breeding ground for many cetacean species, but no study
has been published on the distribution and composition of cetaceans in the fjord. This thesis uses
data from independent research trips from 2006 to 2014 to estimate the distribution of the eight
species found in the fjord: Killer whales (Orcinus orca), Long-finned Pilot whales (Globicephala
melas), Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus), Harbour porpoises (Phocoena
phocoena), Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus),
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus). Killer
whales have two areas of preference based on prey availability, and pilot whales where
encountered mostly in deeper areas which houses cephalopods. Vestfjorden is currently closed for
seismic survey activity, even so, ongoing seismic surveys up to 400 km away have been recorded
inside the fjord since 2010. The study could not find a significant effect of seismic surveys on
harbour porpoise or minke whale counts, and the amount of individuals encountered in the fjord
each summer does not seem to have changed despite periodical seismic survey noise since 2010.
Due to an opportunistic sampling design, a new investigation is proposed and possible noise
impacts are discussed.

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