Fluke ID Matches Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


Match H0010/ HWC#1061

My first matched whale was identified by Rosemary Seton at Allied Whale after "running" them through the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue (NAHWC), which currently contains over 6,500 individual humpback whales from all over the North Atlantic, was HWC# 1061 on the left. It was first photographed in 1978, thirty years ago!! The image on the right was taken by me in the spring of 2007 here in Bermuda.


This whale has a lengthy and interesting sighting history which is included below:

July 1978 - off Baie de Verde Harbour, Newfoundland

August 1979 - Salvage, Newfoundland

March 1985 - Silver Bank, West Indies

July 1992 - Witless Bay, Newfoundland

January 1993 - Silver Bank, West Indies (again!)

July 1993 - Witless Bay, Newfoundland (back there again too!)

August 2002 - off Sweet Bay Reach, Newfoundland

March 2007 - Bermuda (my sighting)

From the repeated migrations back to Newfoundland, it appears that this is its feeding ground. Also, the sighting history reveals that this whale is a minimum of 29 years of age. Further, in looking over the earliest photo of this whale (from 1978), I can see that it is (likely) not a calf and therefore is at least 30 years old! (Flukes of calves tend to be greyish in colour.) This type of match is always exciting to us as it enhances our ever-growing knowledge of humpback movements in the North Atlantic.

Match H0002/ HWC#1135

The second match I made myself while at Allied Whale in the summer of 2007. I had video and photographs of this whale four days out of a week. It was also the whale that appeared when "Magical Whale" danced around me for almost two hours. I made the match in about fifteen minutes because I started at the beginning of the catalogue and as luck would have it, matched the photograph with one taken in Newfoundland by Professor Hal Whitehead thirty years earlier. This was whale HWC #1135. He had never been photographed since that first id in 1978 and the several photos and video I took in late April 2007. The image on the right is one of several I took of him, including video. By zooming in on my image I could see the details that made the match.


And below is an image taken by Chris Burville on 29th April 2008. We were out there at the same time as Chris and thought this might be the same whale, but alas, the photo shows it wasn't.

Match H0012/ HWC#8344

The third match was made by one of the College of the Atlantic students, Adrianna, who matched one of my whale fluke photographs from 2007 to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue. The match was HWC# 8344. We have only one other sighting of that humpback which was photographed in 2002 on the Scotian Shelf (specifically Banquereau Bank) off the northeast side of Nova Scotia. This is an area that has had only minimal survey effort (a few NOAA Fisheries cruises) over the past few years and is a region of interest (among many!!)


Match H0027/ HWC#3186

A fourth match was made of one of my whales from March 11, 2008 - the Type 5 (black tail) whale numbered 0253. This whale Rosemary Seton matched to another old-timer, HWC# 3186 whose feeding ground is Newfoundland. Its history is also short and sweet: 1980 - Newfoundland, 1981 - Silver Bank, DR. So this whale is at least 28 years old and has not been photographed in 26 years. Another cool sighting.

Match H0036/ HWC#2242

A fifth match was a Type 1 (mainly white) whale with orca scars (OO36) which is HWC# 2242 was taken here on 6th April 2008. Interestingly, this whale has only two other sightings in its history. It was seen off Puerto Rico in 1982, and in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic in 1989. And now we have an additional sighting record for HWC #2242 - in addition to the early sightings in 82 and 89, from a 2005 sighting in Witless Bay by Dave Snow of Wildland Tours, Newfoundland (a popular whale-watching area). So now, in addition to being at least 26 years old, we know it is part of the eastern Canada feeding sub-stock. The photo on the right was taken here in Bermuda on 6th April 2008. The numerous scars from the teeth of an orca attack are easily visible. I also have several minutes of underwater video of this whale with whalt looks like a 15-month old calf. The mother was extremely emaciated while the calf was stuffed to the gills (or baleen). This indicates to me that the mothers do not wean their calves after the summer feeding up north, nor do they stop feeding them down south in the breeding grounds. This calf was 26-30 feet long and fat as can be while its slow moving mother hardly moved. This is all on YouTube



Match H0035/ HWC#3558

And here's another match made on 8th May 08 of a whale sent to Allied Whale from 6th April 08. Specifically, it was Adrianna Beaudette, one of Allied Whale's talented freshmen (whom is fast becoming their "matching queen"!!) matched our whale 0035  from April 6, 2008 to HWC# 3558. Actually, she matched it serendipitously as she just happened to recognize our whale as being one in the "recently matched box"! So, here is the sighting history to date for HWC#3558:

1982 - Red Bay, Labrador, Canada

1986 - British Virgin Islands, West Indies

2002 - St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada (across the Strait of Belle Isle from Red Bay incidentally)

2008 - Bermuda

The photo sent of HWC#3558 on Sally Tuckers on April 6th is below:

Match H0039/ HWC#1517

And now another match, the seventh, photo of the fluke taken below here in Bermuda on Sally Tuckers:
0039 from 11 April: this is HWC# 1517. 
  25 Jun 1979 Newfoundland (Memorial University Newfoundland)
  13 Aug 1982 Labrador (Memorial University Newfoundland) 
  12 Feb 1983 Silver Bank (Ken Balcomb ORES)
  13 Aug 1983 Labrador (Memorial University Newfoundland) 
  29 Jul 1991 Witless Bay Newfoundland ((Memorial University Newfoundland)
  Jul 2001 Witless Bay (Wildland Tours).

Match H0047/ HWC#2943

And the eighth match, a photo by Kelly Winfield on the left taken on April 20, 2008 and another photo on the right from Neal Towlson of HWC# 2943 which is another Adrianna matched! She loves our Bermuda whales!

The sighting history is short but sweet! It is as follows:

1984 - Silver Bank, DR, West Indies

2003 - Trinity, Newfoundland.


Match H0046/ HWC#8379

And now another match, the ninth, again from a fluke shot sent in by Kelly Winfield on 20th of April on Sally Tuckers. Kelly's fluke shot was P4204075Kelly20thApril and matched to HWC# 8379. This whale has only one other sighting: 2003 - Emerald Bank, Scotian Shelf, Nova Scotia, Canada It was taken by NOAA Fisheries on one of their survey cruises of the Gulf of Maine and beyond, i.e., the Scotian Shelf. Notice how these two whales photographed in the same area at the same time, in the same pod, look very similar. I wonder whether these almost identical flukes (apart from the scars from gashes) indicate that the whales are related and if so, whether a pod travels up north together in family groups.




Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 June 2010 20:44 )
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