Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Kids blogs
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling

Faroes dolphin hunt review – disappointing is an understatement

I wasn't alone in hoping that substantial changes would be made as a result of...
Minke whale - V Mignon

We told them this would happen! Time to halt cruel whale experiments

An ill-conceived and so far ill-fated joint US/ Norwegian experiment to test minke whales' reaction...
Sponging dolphin in Shark Bay

Dolphins who catch fish with shells

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...

Whale have you been?

Back in 2007 a humpback whale photographed close to Texel Island in the Wadden Sea, Netherlands was positively matched to a humpback whale photographed off Toe Head, County Cork, Ireland several months later. Several weeks after frequenting Irish waters, the same individual was re-sighted just 60km south of where it was initially recorded off the Netherlands. During the six months between sightings, this individual completed at least a 2,500km round trip, traversing through some of the busiest (and therefore dangerous for a young whale) waters in the world – the English Channel.

Comparisons with existing photo-identification catalogues determined that the whale was previously unrecorded from any other part of the North Atlantic. In itself this was an important discovery as this represented the first match of a humpback whale within Northeast European continental shelf waters and the first ever, international match of a humpback whale from either Ireland or the Netherlands. However the story doesn’t end there …

Back in 2010, Fredrik Broms set up the North Norwegian Humpback Whale Catalogue (NNHWC) after an unprecedented numbers of humpback whales arrived in his local area of Tromso, something that hadn’t happened since the 1920’s. From his catalogue of individually identified humpback whales (already over the 200 mark and could reach 300 recognisable individuals by the time he has analysed all of this seasons) he has already made eight matches with individuals sighted in the Cape Verde Islands and several matches with whales catalogued in the Azores. I think by now you can see where this is going … he recently confirmed a match between the humpback whale noted above, spotted off the coast of Ireland and the Netherlands, and a whale spotted five years later and several hundred kilometres inside the Arctic Circle. 

Although this doesn’t tell the full story, the whale’s journey from Ireland to Norway by way of the Netherlands is an interesting piece of the puzzling answer to the question, “What are the migratory pathways of the humpback whales seen in north-western Europe?”

Not only does this discovery remind us how little we know about some of the great whales, importantly it also highlights the need to remember that migratory whales have no nationality, belong to no-one and deserve protective measures at an international level. 

You can also help our work by adopting a humpback whale.

About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC