The Pacific Islands Photo-Identification Network (PIPIN) was initiated in 2006 through a grant from the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to the cetacean research program at the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in Honolulu. The funding was directed to “support a collaborative photo-identification catalog that will integrate the efforts of various researchers conducting photo-ID studies on spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), and other species, in the waters of the Pacific Islands Region.”
The PIPIN website (http://pipin.org/community) was created to provide background information on spinner dolphins (e.g., distribution, biology, ecology, and potential threats), photo-identification techniques and exemplar photos, information regarding the workshop, current popular news articles about spinner dolphin conservation issues, and links to other websites. A photo gallery was created for the posting of spinner photographs of particular interest to contributors. Primarily, however, the website was created in order to provide a central location for communication between network participants.
The PIPIN workshop was held on December 11 & 12, 2006 at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary/ Northwest Hawaiian Islands National Monument offices and was attended by local researchers from twelve organizations including the Hawai‘i Marine Mammal Consortium, the Hawai‘i Association for Marine Education and Research, the Dolphin Institute, the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Status of Populations, Levels of Abundance, and Status of Humpbacks (SPLASH) project, Oceanwide Science Institute, Kula Nai‘a Foundation, the Pacific Scientific Review Group, Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology and representatives from the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), PIFSC, and MMC. In addition, Kim Urian and Dr. Andrew Read (Duke University) shared their insights and experience as curator of, and contributor to (respectively), the Mid-Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Catalog (MABDC) – a similar project on the east coast of the U.S.
The goals of the workshop were (1) to discuss research and management priorities for spinner dolphins in Hawai‘i, (2) present examples of established collaborative catalogs (MABDC and SPLASH), and photo-identification tools (database/catalog organization software), (3) to provide a venue for researchers to explore the idea of developing and contributing to a collaborative catalog project, (4) to canvas local research stakeholders on how best to approach such a project and (5) to develop a steering committee or working group to move the process forward.
PIPIN researchers have been collaborating for 6 years and have recently submitted for publication a manuscript on spinner dolphin abundance in the main Hawaiian Islands.
See: Chapla, M. E., D. W. Johnston and K. Urian. 2007. Pacific Islands Photo-Identification Network Workshop Report. Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Administrative Report. H-07-02, 28pp.