From AP News:
A research team at Colgate University has developed SealNet, a database of seal faces created by taking pictures of dozens of harbor seals in Maine's Casco Bay. The team found the tool's accuracy in identifying the marine mammals is close to 100%, which is no small accomplishment in an ecosystem home to thousands of seals.
Cataloguing seal faces and using machine learning to identify them can also help scientists get a better idea of where in the ocean seals are located, Ingram said.
"Understanding their dispersal, understanding their patterns really helps inform any conservation efforts for the coast," she said. "For mobile marine mammals that move around a lot and are hard to photograph in the water, we need to be able to identify individuals."
SealNet is designed to automatically detect the face in a picture, crop it and recognize it based on facial patterns such as eyes and nose shape, as it would a human. A similar tool called PrimNet that is for use on primates had been used on seals previously, but SealNet outperformed it, the Colgate researchers said.
On one hand: neat! Seal conservation is a good thing! On the other hand, I'm usually pretty skeptical about anyone who says "this mass surveillance facial recognition network is here to protect you."
Facial recognition can help conserve seals, scientists say [Patrick Whittle / AP News]