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Submit a sighting

Photo: Whale and Dolphin Conservation

To submit a sighting:

Please submit your photo and location. Lat/long is preferred but general location (river) works too.

Dorsal fin images are how we identify individual dolphins. When an animal is born he has a "clean" fin with no marks. Over time, the fin becomes marked up through play, injury, and scratching and will create nicks that make each fin unique, like a fingerprint. Through photo-ID of dorsal fins we can compare new images to the current catalog to ID animals. Many of the Charleston animals are long-term residents and have a sighting history. Each time an animal is ID'd, that information is added to its sighting history. Additional information can include date, location, and behavior. An animal's sighting history can help us understand an animal's home range, or preferred habitat, as well as preferred areas for feeding, resting, and rearing young- all of which help us manage other factors such as noise and habitat destruction. 

Notice the progression of this animal's fin on the right. All four photos are of the same animal over time. When trying to identify a fin, we must take into account additional marks gained since the last time the animal was seen.


When photographing a dolphin, we're looking for the dorsal fin at a perpendicular angle. 

Disclaimer: Please note it is against the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to follow or pursue animals at any time for photos (unless you have a permit). Regulations state vessels are to stay at least 50 yards from dolphins and never to approach, circle, follow or separate animals. 

IPhoto: Ionian Project

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