An unbelievable match! And something else from Allied Whale that is very interesting Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

Last week I received an email from Mark Outerbridge with a fluke photograph he had taken on 2nd April 2006 to add to my catalogue of humpback flukes. I recognised it straight away as  fluke # 0039 which I had taken in 2008.  This whale matched to Allied Whale's #na1517. I mentioned this match in the diary entry of 25th March. This is its previous sighting history:

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).

11th April 2008 Challenger Banks, Bermuda (Andrew Stevenson)

We already have in our local Bermuda catalogue some 140 archival (1968 to 2007) and some 150 new flukes obtained in 2007, 2008). Of all of these matched flukes, Mark's 2006 photo and my 2008 photo of whale #0039 is only one of six Bermuda to Bermuda matches.

This evening I received another fluke taken yesterday by Lindsay Smith. You can imagine my astonishment when I recognised it straight away as 0039! We now have a triple Bermuda to Bermuda to Bermuda match and all within four years! But it's also so weird that Mark Outerbridge sent his 2006 photo of 0039 to us last week, and now 0039 has shown up again. Of the thousands of whales in the North Atlantic, to get these two flukes sent to me in less than a week?

On the far left is Mark's photo from 2006. In the middle is mine, and on the right is Lindsay's.


To see these photos in a larger format go to the next page:

Mark Outerbridge's 2nd of April 2006 photo:


My  11th of April 2008 photo:

Lindsay Smith's 29th of March 2009 photo:

And here is another weird coincidence. Allied Whale has some 6,500 individual whale flukes identified in their catalogue. Their #na0039 happens to be the only other whale besides our #0039/na1517 with a multiple Bermuda sighting history. Here is the Bermuda sighting history for na0039.
1970 - P. Beamish
1984 - Stone/Stevick (COA)
1985 - G. Stone (COA)
1986 - ORES
The attached photo below is from Greg Stone in 1985.

So that gives us one animal sighted in 4 different years in Bermuda, one animal sighted 3 years years in Bermuda, and either 3 or 4 sighted in 2 different years in Bermuda. But what is so interesting about na0039 is the fact that it hasn't been sighted anywhere else but Bermuda! Is this an indication that there is a humpback population that doesn't winter down to the Caribbean? Are these whales wintering on the mid-ocean seamounts and are these the whales that go further north, to Greenland (where there is no one to photograph them) or Iceland and Norway?

On the other hand, our bd0039/na1517 mentioned above was sighted in Bermuda during 3 years but also has a sightings history in Newfoundland.

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