The Voyage of the Delaware II 1999
Trip Summary and Research Log
Week 2
Picture of Delaware II

Gian Criscitiello teaches third grade at the Smith School in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
He and the crew of Delaware II will send research information and marine mammal sightings.
Map and Information
Best Blank Map for the cruise.
Best gray tone Blank Map for the cruise.

Blank Map for the cruise.
Blank Map - North Atlantic
Map Generator - make your own maps. (USGS Site)
Ocean Temperatures
Live Data - locations, Temp, etc.
U.S. National Data Buoy System

Follow along. Plot the course and share the discoveries.


Log of the Delaware II


Summary of trip:

The primary goals of the cruise are to photographically identify individual right, humpback, and blue whales to assess population size and structure; to take biopsy samples [for analyses involving genetics, to study population structure, stable isotopes (diet), and toxicology (level of contaminants], and to conduct extensive oceanographic sampling to characterize the habitats used by the whales. Personnel on board include 12 scientists from a variety of institutions but chiefly The National Marine Fisheries Service office in Woods Hole, MA. The chief scientist is Phil Clapham. The operation of the Delaware is up to the able crew of engineers, deck workers, stewards and executive officers under the command of Jack McAdam, Master.

Observational watches rotate from 7am to 7pm. Species, number, position etc., are recorded.

Biopsy are taken from a station on the bow of the boat and from an 18' zodiac. Oceanographic data is collected by stopping and lowering CTDs (Continuity, Temp & Density) sensor, and an OPC (Optical Plankton Counter) to different depth (so far up to 200 meters). Additional plankton data is gathered from towing 'Bongos', fine mesh nets, through the water at different depths. Area to be covered in survey.

We started out on Georges Bank but will focus on different areas of the Scotian Shelf, the continental shelf southeast of Nova Scotia. We will be running survey blocks near Le Have Bank, Emerald Bank, Western Bank, Western Gully and Browns Bank.

LOG

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 6:25pm EST
August 1, 1999
43 09.16'N
062 12.60'W
On the Scotian Shelf

Daily Report Weather: Overcast, 20 knots southeast wind, good visibility, 3-6 foot seas.
Whale Sightings: 3, It was difficult observing whales today because the seas were choppy and presented many 'whitecaps' and waves. Additionally, any blows that were emitted by bigger whales were quickly dispersed by the wind.
Species ID'd Today: humpback
Biopsy: 0, too rough to launch the Zodiac.
Oceanographic Info: 1 CTD

Comments:
Whale Population Genetics
by Victoria Portway, Smithsonian Institution and Leila Hatch, Cornell University, Aboard NOAA Ship Delaware II

Tissue samples collected from individual whales are used to address numerous questions about whale populations that can't be answered through observing them in the wild. Genetic analysis can determine the gender of an individual, suggest how individual whales or entire groups of whales are related to each other, and help determine migration routes. Such information is helpful for understanding how to best protect and manage whale populations. It is difficult to determine the sex of individual whales by observing them in the wild. Sometimes behavior can give us clues as to the sex of a whale. In most large whale species, mothers are usually found traveling with their newborn calves, and can therefore be identified as females. Male humpback whales sing complex songs, and therefore recorded singers can be identified as males. However, such behavioral methods are only useful for identifying the gender of a portion of the whales we observe. Genetically, gender in mammals such as whales is determined by two pieces of DNA called X and Y chromosomes. Males have an X and a Y, while females have two X chromosomes. By isolating these pieces from an individual's DNA, we can tell conclusively the sex of the whale. Knowing the sex of individual whales is vital to understanding their behavior, their relationships with other members of a group, and the sex ratio of the whales in a population.

DNA analyses can also give us detailed information about how individual whales and groups of whales are related to one another. Unlike toothed whales (dolphins, sperm and killer whales) most baleen whales (humpback whales, right whales, blue whales, etc.) do not live in large groups or "pods". However, there are times when baleen whales are found together, such as when a female is nursing a calf, or when several whales come together in feeding or breeding groups. Breeding groups may have a female and many males, so when a female gives birth, it is difficult to know which male is the father. However, sometimes it is possible to determine the parentage of a whale by comparing DNA from the mother, potential fathers and the calf. These comparisons can also tell us if some males in a population are breeding more often than others. Similar comparisons can suggest whether animals feeding or traveling together are closely related to one another.

Although it is clear that most large whales have the ability to travel very long distances, it is often very difficult to determine where they go. Within an ocean basin, there are often several populations of the same species of whale found in different areas. Some of these populations may come together to breed, others may never mix. Many populations of baleen whales are known to move seasonally between feeding areas and nursery areas. Efforts to conserve populations of whales in distinct geographic areas depend upon knowing whether whales are moving between such areas, and if so, whether whales from different areas are breeding with one another. DNA analysis of tissue collected from whales in different areas can help us understand how isolated populations are from one another. Sometimes it is even possible to determine how long it has been since whales from one area mated with whales from another area. Once the genetic identity of whales from different areas has been established, DNA from whales of unknown origin can be compared to and matched with the area where they were most likely born, giving us critical information about where whales go within their lifetimes.

Population genetics is a relatively new and exciting field of science. This summary describes only a few of the ways that these methods can be used to answer questions about whales that have proven hard to answer in the short amount of time that we have to observe these species in the wild. If you are interested in whale behavior and ecology, there will always be plenty of questions left to answer.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 5:25pm EST
August 2, 1999

43 30.11'N
062 55.10'W
On the Scotian Shelf

Daily Report
Weather: Fog has returned! Light SW winds. 100-200 meters visibility
Whale Sightings: 0
Species IDed Today: 0
Biopsy: 0
Oceanographic Info: 5 CTD

Comments:
LARGE WHALE SPECIES
Phil Clapham, Large Whale Biology Program, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, on Board NOAA Ship Delaware II

HUMPBACK WHALE The scientific name of the humpback is Megaptera novaeangliae, which means "big wing of New England". The "big wing" refers to the flippers, which are the largest of any whale (up to a third the body length). The "New England" comes from the fact that the first humpback specimen to be scientifically described (in 1781, by a German naturalist named Borowski) came from the New England area. Humpbacks can reach 50 feet or more in length; like most baleen whales, females are a little larger than males. Humpbacks are found in all the world's oceans. Despite the fact that perhaps 90% were wiped out by whaling, most populations seem to be making a strong comeback. In the North Atlantic, we estimate that there are more than ten thousand humpbacks. In spring, these whales go to separate feeding grounds including the Gulf of Maine, Newfoundland, Labrador, the Gulf of St Lawrence, Greenland and Iceland. Fidelity to these feeding areas is determined maternally. In other words, if your mom was a Greenland whale, that's where you'll feed when you grow up. Despite this separation in feeding grounds, almost all the whales migrate to a single breeding area in the West Indies, where they mix and mate together. Breeding and calving occur in winter, and at this time the whales don't eat for weeks or months, living instead on reserves of fat stored in their blubber layer.

Because the Gulf of Maine is considered a separate feeding population from the others in the North Atlantic, it's important for us to find out how many whales use this region, and what the boundaries are to this population. One of the ways to do this is to identify individual whales from variations in markings on the underside of the tail. Each whale has a tail pattern that is unique (just like a fingerprint), and we have followed some individual humpbacks for more than twenty years. Photos that we took on this research cruise last year suggest that the humpbacks found on the Scotian Shelf are mostly not whales seen in the Gulf of Maine, so these animals may be part of a separate population. We are also collecting samples for genetic analysis to look at relatedness among individuals.

Humpbacks make the longest migrations of any mammal. Animals from some populations travel more than five thousand miles from feeding grounds to breeding areas. Male humpbacks sing long, complex songs, probably to attract females. These songs are heard throughout the winter breeding season, and occasionally at other times. In winter, males also fight for access to females; these fights are often spectacular, and involve lots of charging, tail slashing and body slams. Female humpbacks give birth to a single calf, generally every two or three years. Like all baleen whales, male humpbacks take no part in the raising of the calf, which separates from its mother after about a year.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 4:50pm EST
August 3, 1999

43 01.90'N
062 20.70'W
On the Scotian Shelf

Daily Report
Weather: Fog continues in lighter patches this morning. Light NE winds. Fog clearing out around 1:00pm, visibility much improved.
Whale Sightings: 7
Species ID'd Today: fin, humpback and minke
Biopsy: 0
Oceanographic Info: 5 CTDs
Comments: We have logged over 1000 nautical miles since leaving Woods Hole on July 26. We are currently 380 miles east of Woods Hole and 110 miles southeast of Halifax, N.S. We had a visit from a female yellow warbler yesterday afternoon. Small land birds do get lost at sea and find refuge on ships. We've also seen numerous loggerhead turtles and mola mola (ocean sunfish).
Gian Criscitiello, Teacher At Sea

Dolphins and Porpoises
Tim Cole, Marine Mammal Specialist, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole On Board NOAA Ship Delaware II

There are 7 species of small odontocetes, a.k.a. dolphins and porpoise, that can be seen in our study area on the Scotian Shelf. They include:

Killer whale (Orcinus orca)
Believe it or not, the orca is actually in the dolphin family, they're just a lot bigger than the other dolphins, reaching over 30 feet in length. We have yet to see one in the two years we've been working here, but we see evidence of their presence, some humpback whales in the area bear distinctive "rake" marks on their tails, left by the teeth of the orca. The orcas may be testing the whales' health, or it may simply be a game for them to nip at a fluke or extended flipper. Large fish, such as tuna, probably make up the bulk of the orcas' diet here, but dolphins and harbor porpoise may also frequent the menu. The orcas on the Scotian Shelf are likely transient, that is, just passing through. Where they come from, and where they go to, are still largely mysteries.

Long-finned pilot whale (Globicephela melas)
Adult pilot whales my reach over 20 feet in length. Pilot whales eat squid and fish exclusivley. We see pilot whales pretty much every day (unless there's fog). Sometimes we see just one or two of them making thier way through the waves, while other times we see many small groups close to each other, forming a school of several hundred. We usually see several calves in each group, frollicking amongst the adults. The adults also get excited when two groups meet, spyhopping and slapping their tails at the surface.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Bottlenose dolphins are usually what come to people's mind when you say "dolphin". They are found in the coastal waterways from Texas up to the North Carolina, as well as offshore all the way up to the Scotian Shelf. The bottlenose dolphins living offshore, however, tend to be much bigger and probably do not mix with the inshore bottlenose dolphins. Offshore bottlenose may reach 12 feet in length. They are fish eaters, and usually travel in small groups of 3 to 30 animals. They are very social, and enjoy riding the wake at the bow of the ship. We have seen about 5 groups of bottlenose dolphins on this trip so far. Last year we only saw two for the whole two weeks we were out here.

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Common dolphins get to 8 feet in length. They are typically found well offshore, in water depths of 500 feet or more. They often gather into huge schools of one thousand or more dolphins. Imagine seeing 1000 dolphins all swimming and leaping together, churning up the ocean's surface! Just four days ago we saw a group of 400-600 Common dolphins. We see a couple groups of common dolphins everyday, but usually there are only about 30 animals in the group. Common dolphins, like the bottlenose dolphins, are also avid bowriders, surfing on the wake at the bow of the ship for miles at a time.

Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
We occasionally see striped dolphins when we're in very deep water (1000 feet or more). They are about the same size as common dolphins, but have a different coloration pattern. We sometimes see striped and common dolphins together. Striped dolphins are not as enthusiastic about bowriding as the commons. Instead, they like to make giant leaps out of the water and then landing on their side.

Whitebeaked dolphin (Lagenorynchus albirostris) and Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorynchus acutus)
These two species are typically found closer to shore than where we are working, and we have yet to see them, but ya never know. They are slightly larger than the common or striped dolphin, reaching over 9 feet in length. They are primarily fish eaters. The whitebeaked dolphin likes colder waters, 45 F or so, and is found around Nova Scotia all the way up to Greenland and over to Norway. Whitesided dolphins have a similar distribution, but appear to like slightly warmer water. If you go out on a whale watch from Boston, there's a good chance you'll see some whitesides.

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
The harbor porpoise is the smallest cetacean that could be seen in our study area. A full-grown adult is about 5 feet long and weighs 130 lbs. Like the two Lag species (above), they tend to be more coastal, especially in summer, and we have yet to see any. They are usually alone or in small groups of 5 or fewer, and tend to avoid boats. Their small size and inconspicuous behavior make them difficult to see unless the sea is flat calm. Porpoise really like to eat herring.

National Marine Mammal Laboratory - Information, images, and more.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 5:30pm EST
August 4, 1999
43 22.24'N
062 12.87'W
On the Scotian Shelf

Daily Report
Weather: Clear, Northwest winds at 10-15 knots, good visibility for spotting whales.
Whale Sightings: 46
Species ID'd Today: fin, humpback, sperm, pilot whales and common dolphins
Biopsy: 3 common dolphin from bow
Oceanographic Info: 0 CTDs

Big Eye Comments: We were busy on the flying bridge this morning as whales seemed to be all around us. We could see the tall blows of a fin whale from 8 miles away with the Big Eyes binoculars. We managed to get some fluke photos of a humpback but, unfortunately, we did not see any of our other priority species: rights or blues. I was treated to a tour of the engine room and all the amazing systems on board that keep us going at sea for extended periods. Thanks go to Grady, First Engineer aboard the Delaware! We are currently headed towards the Emerald Banks in search of blues and rights. More tomorrow.
Gian Criscitiello, Teacher at Sea
North Atlantic Right Whales and Ship Strikes
Lindy Johnson, NOAA General Counsel's Office of International Law, Washington D.C.
On Board the NOAA Ship Delaware II

The North Atlantic Right Whale is among the most endangered of the world's large whales. There are approximately only 300-350 of these animals remaining. The species was severely deleted by commercial whaling from the 11th to the 20th centuries. The right whale was given its name because it was the "right" whale to kill: it spends a good deal of time at the surface, its blubber content made it float after death, and it yielded large quantities of oil which was valuable to whalers. Today, the biggest threat to these whales comes from collisions with ships.

The impact of ship strikes on right whales is clear. Massive wounds (e.g., fractured skulls, severed tails, and large propeller slashes) on right whale carcasses have helped identify ship strikes as the cause of death. Large scars or wounds attributed to ship strikes have been found on the backs or flukes of at least 7% of the living right whales in the western North Atlantic. Although the total number of deaths resulting from ship strikes is unknown because not all carcasses are recovered, it is estimated that more than 50% of all right whale deaths are caused by ship strikes.

Right whales are dark in color and difficult to see. They do not have a dorsal fin. Additionally, right whale behavior and habitat undoubtedly plays a role in their vulnerability to ship collisions. For example, right whales may occur in surface active groups, i.e., three to twenty or more individuals engaging in frequent physical contact and sexual behavior. Right whales engage in skim feeding, in which they gather plankton by swimming slowly at the surface with their mouths open. They also spend long periods resting at the surface, a behavior called "Slogging". Mothers and calves spend a good deal of their time at the surface because calves nurse there and have limited diving capabilities. During surface activities, right whales often appear to be focused on the activity and unaware of the approach of ships. Perhaps most importantly, many right whale critical habitats overlap with major international shipping lanes.

The United States and Canada, in whose waters the North Atlantic right whale occurs, are taking steps to identify and implement measures to reduce the ship collisions with right whales. These steps include such things as providing information to mariners. Surveys for whales are conducted by airplanes and ships and, when right whales are located, this information is sent out to ships in the area through a variety of means. Unfortunately, these surveys are able to locate only a small percentage of the whales, the information remains valid for only a short period of time because the whales move, and surveys cannot be conducted at night or in bad weather. On July 1, 1999, the United States began a mandatory ship reporting system that requires ships to call in to the U.S. Coast Guard. This system will ensure that mariners are aware of the problem of ship strikes of right whales when they are entering the areas where right whales are abundant. It will also provide the mariners information on how to avoid ship strikes and the latest information on where the whales are located.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 9:02 pm EST
August 5, 1999
43 34.98'N
63 22.75'W
On the Scotian Shelf
Daily Report
Weather: overcast, SSE winds at 10-25 knots, line squalls, barometer dropping, seas building
Whale Sightings: 11, observations stopped early because weather is deteriorating
Species ID'd Today: fin, humpback, pilot whales and common dolphins. One humpback put on a show breaching, flipper flapping and tail breaching.
Biopsy: 0
Oceanographic Info: 2 CTDs

Comments: I am amazed at the amount of data that we are collecting on this trip. Every time we photograph a whale, we fill out a detailed form that describes what part of the whale was photographed, what the animal was doing, if it was alone, latitude and longitude and which frames of which specific roll of film were used. Similar forms are filled out when a biopsy sample is taken from a whale. On the flying bridge,each time a whale is sighted, information regarding numbers, swimming direction, behavior, species, bearing and distance is recorded in a mini computer. At the end of the observation period, (7:00pm) this information is printed out and checked for accuracy by each observer. Additionally, the ship's computers continuously record selected information including GPS position, water temperature, depth and sonar readings. This digital data alone can amount to more than 1 gigabyte by the end of 18 days at sea. The data from CTDs and plankton tows will give a similar volume of data. Like many fields of science, the short periods of 'field work' are focused on intensive data gathering which are followed by months, if not years, of careful analysis in the lab. Conclusive results of data gathered on this trip are somewhere over the horizon. However, we don't need to wait that long to conclude that the animals we are looking at out here are quite amazing.
Gian Criscitiello, Teacher At Sea
Delaware II Ship Operations
Brian Lake, Executive Officer, Delaware II
On Board NOAA Ship Delaware II

The NOAA Ship Delaware II is operated by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations (ONCO) in support of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA. The ship was built in 1967, but recently went through a major refit that will extend the ship's life well into the next decade. The vessel is 155 feet long, and 30 feet wide. The ship's complement consists of 14 crew members and up to 13 scientists.

The ship has been redesigned to be a multipurpose platform. Our projects include: Bottom Trawl Surveys, Mid-Water Trawl Surveys, Clam Surveys, Oceanographic Surveys, and Marine Mammal Surveys. We can stay at sea for 18 days without coming back to shore.

One of the unique characteristics of the Delaware is her Scientific Computing System or SCS. There are over 120 real and derived sensors located around the ship. These sensors include navigation sensors (position, speed, heading, etc..) as well as environmental sensors (wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, sea surface temperature, salinity, etc..). All of these data are logged every second and saved to disk continuously. When we arrive in port, the data is sent to NOAA's NODC (National Oceanographic Data Center) for storage. Most of this information can be accessed directly from the Internet. The ship is in constant communication with the Laboratory. In addition to traditional radio communications, we now have Cellular phones, Satellite phones, and e-mail. We send and receive e-mail 3 times per day and everyone onboard can keep in touch with their friends and family. This is a great moral booster, especially for the crew who spend as much as 240 days at sea per year.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 9:00pm EST
August 6, 1999
42 59.17'N
63 29.86'W
On the Scotian Shelf
Daily Report
Weather: partly sunny skies today, winds abating from yesterday, seas
subsiding, good visibility. Northwest winds at 10-15 knots
Whale Sightings: 66
Species IDed Today: fin, humpback, minke and pilot whales and common dolphins Biopsy: 4 common dolphins from bow
Oceanographic Info: 6 CTDs, one plankton net tow

Boat Comments:
A good day for sighting whales although we didn't see any blues or rights. There were many bowriding common dolphins and numerous finbacks in the distance. We are leaving the general area we have been in for the last week and are headed northwest to Brown's Bank and Roseway Basin where right whales have been reported in past surveys. We have been hearing sonic booms almost daily as military jets or the Concorde break the sound barrier somewhere overhead. Last night at sunset we could see the contrails of 5 or 6 jets heading northeast, presumably all the international flights leaving from JFK and Logan bound for Europe. The running commentary on the ships intercom goes something like this "...and it looks like Air France is pulling ahead of British Airways. SwissAir and Alitalia are coming on strong because they found the favorable jet stream winds. . KLM must have had a good boarding because they're out ahead.... " We are trying to refine our humor out here!
Gian Criscitiello, Teacher At Sea
Studying Right Whale Habitat
Mark F. Baumgartner, Oregon State University
On Board NOAA Ship Delaware II

The North Atlantic right whale remains the most highly endangered whale in the ocean despite international protection from hunting since 1935. The current population hovers around 300 individuals and a recent study suggests that the North Atlantic right whale may become extinct within the next two centuries if mortality rates continue to be as high as they are today. It remains a mystery why this species' population has not recovered since the end of commercial hunting. Some scientists think that the population was reduced to such low numbers that it is genetically impossible for this species to survive. Still others think that the whales are being directly or indirectly killed by humans in such large numbers that reproduction has been unable to keep up with human-induced mortality. Right whales can be unintentionally killed by humans by being run over by ships, entangled in fishing gear or through the degradation of habitat caused by over-fishing, coastal development and pollution. My work aboard the Delaware II is to collect oceanographic data that can be used to characterize right whale habitat. In order to reduce human-caused mortality, it is vital that we understand just where in the vast ocean right whales occur and most importantly, why it is that they occur there. At this time of year (summer), right whales can generally be found in the Bay of Fundy and on the Scotian shelf. We believe that the whales visit these areas because they harbor an abundance of tiny animals called zooplankton that right whales eat. Once we have a better understanding of which oceanic regions contain right whale habitat, we will be able to reduce human-caused mortality by managing potentially threatening activities, such as shipping and fishing, in those areas.

To assess right whale habitat, I have some oceanographic instruments and plankton nets that I deploy at predetermined stops (called "stations") along the survey route. When the ship stops at a station, I lower two of the instruments - a conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) instrument and an optical plankton counter (OPC) - to the bottom of the ocean (typically 100 - 200 meters below the surface on the Scotian shelf) to collect information about the temperature, salinity and zooplankton abundance throughout the water column. From the OPC data, I can roughly determine what type of zooplankton are located at that station, but I do not know exactly what species of zooplankton they are. To get this information, I occasionally tow plankton nets through the water so that I can directly determine which species of zooplankton are present and how many of them there are. In addition to collecting these data at regular stations, I am also collecting these data whenever we encounter right whales. When the cruise is over, I will be able to determine what is different about the oceanography and zooplankton species composition and abundance in areas where right whales do and do not occur. This analysis will provide clues about what oceanographic conditions and prey distributions make up critical right whale habitat.

NOAA Ship Delaware II
Position at 9:02 pm EST
August 7, 1999

42 53.90'N
65 01.64'W
In the Roseway Basin on the Scotian Shelf
Daily Report
Weather: clear, WNW winds at 15-25 knots, seas building, good visibility
Whale Sightings: 4, not many whales in this area!
Species IDed Today: fin
Biopsy: 0
Oceanographic Info: 7CTDs

Comments:
We steamed through the night to reach this part of the Roseway Basin. It has been known from records kept by the Blanford Whaling Station in the '60s and '70s, to be an area where right whales congregate. More recent surveys have shown that they are not present in the Roseway Basin. We came to see if they have returned and to gather oceanographic data that may help determine why they are not here. The visibility was excellent today, we even saw the distant coastline of Nova Scotia, but there were no right whales anywhere. The water temperature plummeted from around 67 degrees to 52 degrees requiring us to pile on the layers when the wind picked up.
Gian Criscitiello, Teacher At Sea
Photo Identification of Whales
Rene DeVito, Observer & Photographer
On Board NOAA Ship Delaware II

Photography is a vital tool in studying whales. Scientists photograph whales so that they can identify individuals. There are different characteristics and markings on a whale's body that aid in identifying individuals. With each whale species, a particular part of the body is photographed. For example, it is the right whale's head that scientists are interested in photographing. On the head, right whales have rough, light-colored growths of skin called callosities. Callosities are found on the snout, around the blowholes, above the eyes, on the chin and along the lower jaws. The size, pattern, and position of these callosities differ for each individual. Cyamid crustaceans, also known as whale lice, often live on the callosities, making them appear white, orange, yellowish, or pink. Many times the whale will have scars on different areas of its body, which can also be helpful to identify individuals.

The tail flukes and dorsal fin are what researchers photograph on humpback whales. When humpbacks begin a deep dive they "fluke" up, exposing the ventral side of their tail flukes, which vary in color from all white to all black, with every grade in between; no two animals have the same pattern. The trailing edges of the flukes have frequent irregularities and notches, which are unique to the animal. Many times the flukes will become scarred, due to injuries from other humpbacks, attacks by sharks or killer whales or attachments by barnacles, lampreys, parasites, etc. If the flukes are black, the scar will appear white and vice versa. After the first year of life, the color of the flukes generally stay constant, along with the trailing edges.

Scientists also photograph the left and right sides of a humpback's dorsal fin. The shape and size of the fin vary among individuals. Some dorsal fins may also have pigmentation patterns and even some scarring, which can help to identify an animal.

The dorsal fin shape and the mottling pattern of a blue whale's skin are used to identify individual animals. The skin of a blue whale is blueish-grey in color with irregular light-colored spots. The coloration pattern is different for each animal, as well as the size and shape of the dorsal fin, therefore, they are the primary characteristics used for photo id work. When actually photographing, the photographer takes pictures of both sides of the animal. The area that is concentrated on is the area surrounding the dorsal fin, including areas that are in front of, below, and behind the dorsal.

Week 1,3


Additional details from the Log of the Delaware II.

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