As a marine biologist, I started up a project in 2010/2011 to collect photos for photo-identification of humpback whales in Norway - a project that has grown enormously since the start and with interesting results starting to emerge about the ecology and migration patterns of humpbacks in Norwegian waters.
This winter I continue my data-collection of fluke-photos for the North Norwegian Humpback Whale Catalogue (NNHWC) as usual, but this year it will also form a part of a larger mulitidisciplinary research project here in Tromsø in Northern Norway with focus on oceanography, fish-stock size estimates using hydroacoustics and testing out of new techniques to monitor this species.
Because no two humpbacks look exactly the same (the flukes have various patterns and markings) the pictures can be used in much the same way as human fingerprints to identify individual whales. If enough pictures from various places are collected over long time, the same individuals may be seen several times and one can start to get an idea of e.g. migration patterns and the population size.
HAVE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED THE FLUKE/TAIL OF A HUMPBACK? PLEASE CONTACT THE NORTH NORWEGIAN HUMPBACK WHALE CATALOGUE (NNHWC) AT: firstname.lastname@example.org
Already from the first trip, we were able to identify approximately ten different humpback whales. I will present the scientific results in future posts - this is only be a pure photographic gallery with photos shot from the boat while the hydroacoustician run some test transects showing us dense balls of herring - and the feeding humpbacks were not far away.