Penguin personalizer: Software that allows recognition of individual birds could aid in conservation

“They all look alike to me” is no longer an excuse when studying penguins. The same facial recognition software that helps Homeland Security identify terrorists could one day be used to identify individual penguins and monitor their populations, thereby aiding in their conservation.

Traditionally, tracking individual penguins–which is important for monitoring population dynamics, understanding migratory patterns, and assessing the health of a species–has required attaching transmitters to their backs or metal bands to flippers or legs. But transmitters are expensive, and evidence has shown that ID bands can sometimes interfere with swimming and food gathering or even injure the birds if the bands are damaged.

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