2011 01 06- Another Bermuda fluke ID is matched to two other recent sightings in Bermuda Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

0223_1_bd_2009_04_11_as_2007_04_24 0223_1_bd_2005_05_05_kw_2007_bd_04_24_2009_04_11_m0289_toro 0223_1_2007_bd_04_24_cb__2005_05_05_2009_04_11_m0289_toro

Here's how the story unfolds. The photo to the above left I took here in Bermuda in 2009 on 11th April. It's not a particularly good photo but the curving line on the right fluke is fairly distinctive, good enough for a photo ID. The beautiful photo ID to the above far right was given to me a month or so ago by Chris Burville. He had taken the photo on the 24th of April 2007. The photo in the middle was given to me by Kelly Winfield last week. This photo was taken on 5th May 2005. Judie Clee made this most recent match of Kelly's photo yesterday while in the Cayman Islands where she is on holiday. These matches indicate the humpbacks seem to be coming back to Bermuda year after year. It also shows how important it is for other photographers to send us their fluke IDs. If Chris and Kelly hadn't contributed their fluke IDs we would have had no idea the same whale was here in 2005, 2007 as well as 2009. It all helps us to build up the data base of research and fluke IDs so that we can better determine the pelagic migratory behaviour of the North Atlantic humpbacks. This whale is known as Toro or HWC #0289 Toro  and was first identified in 1979 or 31 years ago!

 

We now have one whale that we have matched four seasons (again thanks to two contributor fluke IDs), four that we have matched over three seasons, and over a dozen that we have seen here twice. Given the frequency of passing storms that prevents us from getting out on the water to ID the whales consistently during their migration past Bermuda, these matches are probably only the tip of the iceberg as far as their adherence to the same migratory routes and timetable when they migrate north to their feeding grounds from their breeding grounds in the Caribbean.

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Above you see the 5 different types and the 8 different sub-types cateogories that we use to help us try and make the task of matching fluke IDs easier. There is no computer programme that can do this so the long and short of it is the matches have to be made by eye and can take many hours for each fluke ID to make a match and even more before it is assigned a new ID number. The fluke above would probably fall into the T2 category under the T2a, T2w, T2b, T2l subtypes but a search would also have to be done under the relevant T1 and T3 categories to do a thorough and comprehensive search.