Subject: An Atlantic Humpback's Name

Phillip Colla (
Wed, 09 Jun 1999 20:11:01 -0700

>I am interested in finding out the name of the 1998 calf of a Humpback
named "Nurse."
>At least I think that's her name.  We spotted her and her calf  while
whale watching
>on Jefferys Bank off the coast of Maine/New Hampshire.  I'm sorry, but I
am not
>completely positive that our guide called her "Nurse."  I do know that she
>originally thought to be male, and that after she was seen with a calf,
her name was changed.

I work with a research who studies N. Pacific humpbacks.  We don't "name"
individual whales, but rather assign them id numbers.  (In fact, one of the
problems with naming investigational subjects is just what you mentioned,
that the name typically implies a gender which may itself be wrong.  So
subsequent work with the same animal may be biased by a unconscious assumption
about the gender, or some aspect, of the subject.)

Naming subjects is common in animal subject research communities.
Indeed, some Pacific researchers do name humpbacks, but we don't hear much
about them except for a few "famous" individual humpbacks who have
been seen again and again and have some special aspect to them (scarring,
etc.).  So I am sorry, but I don't know anything about the particular whale
you mention.  I suggest contacting researchers who focus their observations
on the humpback population that moves between New England and Caribbean
waters.  You might be able to find who they are by contacting the Stellwagen
Bank National Marine Sanctuary:

and asking them who has permits to conduct research or whale watching there.
Or you could try contacting the Center for Coastal Studies, a group that
East coast humpback whales:

Best regards,

Phillip Colla
Research Associate: