Humpback fluke photos

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Fri Mar 29 2002 - 07:37:22 EST


Many thanks for your message about fluke photos from Bermuda. This is
of considerable interest, since whales off Bermuda are only rarely

You're right about the ability to identify individual whales from fluke
photos. Each humpback has a tail pattern that is unique, like a
fingerprint, and thousands of animals have been catalogued in the North
Atlantic alone. The technique has also been widely used elsewhere in
the world. Some individual humpbacks in the Gulf of Maine population
have been seen every year for more than 25 years, and in many cases now
we have watched their calves grow up and even have calves of their own.

The place to send your photos is College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor
Maine. COA maintains the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue, which
includes photos of humpbacks from the Arctic to the West Indies. they
will compare your photos with the netire catalogue and, if they find any
matches, will tell you who the whales are and where they have ben seen
previously. I have copied Judy Allen, who manages the catalogue, on
this email.

Thanks again for writing and for taking those photos!

Phil Clapham


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

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