Lots more matches!! Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 09:45

Bermuda fluke id photographed last summer 2008 matched with a humpback whale first photographed in 1977- 32 years ago and in Bermuda in 1986!

Camilla Stringer and I were going through my master catalogue of Bermuda fluke ids taken over the last two years when we came across this match with Allied Whale's NAHWC #2527 and a photograph taken by Ruth Stringer on March 27th 2008. This match has been confirmed by Rosemary Seton at Allied Whale. I remember that day well. Five to six whales in a social unit, a mother plus yearling, primary escort and two challengers fifteen miles off Bermuda on Challenger Banks. Lots of surface activity including pec slapping and lob tailing with bubble trails underneath me. What was the most interesting aspect of this encounter was the presence of what appeared to be a yearling with its mother. I managed to get in the water to film them but after 20 minutes decided that they were too hyperactive with lots of bubble curtains and tail slashing at each other so I called the boat over to pick me up. You can see some of that footage that day below (or by clicking here, or by selecting whales blowing threatening bubbles... from Andrew's Videos (YouTube)).

I'm guessing that if this whale is 32 years old it was either the female (do they still breed at over 32 years old?) or more probably the escort. With this match, that makes 14 matches of Bermuda whales in the last two years!

This is only the fifth time a Bermuda whale has been identified once again in Bermuda waters. The photograph on the left below is #NAHWC2527 which is matched to our #0104.

Here is this whale's previous sighting history:

1977  Virgin Bank (K. Balcomb)
1986  Bermuda (ORES)
1992  Silver Bank (YoNAH)
1993  Silver Bank (YoNAH)

The photographs aren't great, but they are good enough to confirm at least three identifying points on the fluke (there are more than that here). What is amazing is how the fluke hasn't changed much at all over those 32 years.

Word from Allied Whale that they have matched a fourth fluke from Bermuda over the last couple of weeks.


Michael Smith's photo #0043 above, photographed 11 April, 2008 was matched with NAHWC#8363 on the right previously photographed by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center from their large whale survey in 2002. It was seen on two consecutive days in mid-August on Banquereau Bank. This is on the continental shelf east of Nova Scotia. This Scotian Shelf habitat is not well known. It lies part way between important feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine and Newfoundland.

Here are the additional three fluke ids matched by Adrianna at Allied Whale at College of the Atlantic.

On the left above, from April 12 2008, we have another photograph #0110 taken by  Michael Smith, captain of Sea Slipper, matched to the photo on the right, NAHWC# 3685 taken on July 14, 1990 - Witless Bay, Newfoundland by Rosie Seton of Allied Whale when she was a graduate student there. It was seen April 1992 on the southern Gulf of Maine - by Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies and again on July 24, 1992 - St Mary's Bay, Newfoundland - by Years of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale (YoNAH) project and yet again on September 4, 1992 - Strait of Belle Isle - by Years of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale (YoNAH) project.

And the second fluke id photograph #0123on the right above was sent in to me from Dawn Allen who had been out on Michael Hayward's boat Explorer on the 23rd April 2008. This whale was matched to NAHWC# 0182 on the left and is named Icepick. Icepick has a nearly 30 year sighting history now. August 6, 1979 - Off Chatham, Massachusetts - the Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program (CETAP) (the photograph on the left), then in 1980 - Stellwagen Bank, Gulf of Maine - the Ocean Research and Education Society (ORES)
The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies reports sightings in 1985 and 1989, but we do not have photographs or details to go with these. It was not photographed again until we saw it last year here in Bermuda. Where did it go over these last 20 years, or did it just manage to avoid having its fluke photographed for all those years?



And below is another matching id to NAHWC#2796. Previous photo on the left was taken in 1983 on Silver Bank off Dominican Republic by Ken Balcomb. The one on the right #0119 was taken in Bermuda by Terrilyn Griffiths on Looking Glass on the 29th of March 2008 on south south west of Southwest Breaker.



Once again, thanks so much for everyone who takes the effort to take fluke photographs and send them in to me or Allied Whale, College of the Atlantic!


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