Subject: Painting Whale Tails

Patrick Miller (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 13:34:25 -0500

>I just finished making a 3 foot by 2 foot wooden Whale Tail.
>It looks good and now I'd like to paint it.
>Could you give me a source for looking at a whales tail that I could
>duplicate ?


Because there are so many kinds of whales, there are many different
colors and patterns to choose from. Many are gray, often with scars,
scratches, or algae blooms on them. The undersides of humpback whales'
and gray whales' tails are used by researchers to identify individuals,
as the white pigmentation patterns, scars, and scratches differ well
enough to tell individuals apart. One book that has very nice paintings
and photographs of whales you can look at to get an idea of how the
different tails look is:

Leatherwood, S., and Reeves, R.R. 1983. The Sierra Club Handbook of
Whales and Dolphins. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

A more technical source which may be harder to find but which has
photo-identification photographs of some whale's tails in more detail
than the above book is:

P.S. Hammond, Mizroch, S.A., and Donovan, G.P. (eds). 1990. Individual
Recognition of Cetaceans: Use of Photo-Identification and Other
Techniques to Estimate Population Parameters. Report of the Inter-
national Whaling Commission Special Issue 12. IWC, Cambridge.

Good luck with your painting!

                                        yours in whale research,

                                        - Patrick