Ocean Sunfish photo by Kevin Weng
Photo: Kevin Weng

We love sunfish and need a better understanding of their numbers in the Galápagos archipelago. To do this, Dr. Tierney Thys, Dr.Alex Hearn and their team have been tagging individuals with both satellite and acoustic tags and now with your help we want to try an additional exciting new tracking technique. This method takes advantage of  the natural spotty markings on the skin of sunfish to identify between individuals. Using a computer-assisted method for scanning images we hope to determine whether submitted photographs and screen grabs from videos are of  resighted sunfish, or of new ‘unmarked’ individuals.

The  Galápagos Islands provides the ideal location for this work as it is known from our previous work that individual sunfish remain around the archipelago throughout the year.   This project complements an ongoing “mola matching” program underway in Bali, Indonesia led by Dr. Marianne Nyegaard. Together these efforts are aimed at enabling a robust method for estimating population size and variations in the numbers of sunfish at various locations throughout their range.

With your photos we can build this photo database to provide a better understanding of the movements of Galápagos sunfish which are essential to any long-term conservation efforts.

Thank you for your contributions.

Galápagos Sunfish Sighting Reporter

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