What do human fingerprints and polar bear “whisker prints” have in common?

You probably guessed — both give away identity.

Jane Waterman, a Canadian biologist at the University of Central Florida, is asking any tourist who takes a photo of a polar bear around Churchill, Canada, to send it to her to help study the bears. Here’s her website.

Polar bears look pretty much the same to most people — big, white and to be avoided.

But the ”whisker prints”, the pattern of dark dots around the mouth, are unique and Waterman hopes that snapshots taken around Churchill will build a record of what the bears get up to. Bears are in trouble because global warming is melting their icy Arctic homes.

The pictures above show the same bear — taken in two different years along with a pattern of whisker prints that proved it was one and the same.