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Mindful conservation – why we need a new respect for nature

'We should look at whales and dolphins as the indigenous people of the seas -...
tins of whale meat

How Japan’s whaling industry is trying to convince people to eat whales

Japan's hunters kill hundreds of whales every year despite the fact that hardly anyone in...
Common dolphins © Christopher Swann

Did you know dolphins have personalities?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
Microplastics on beach

Blue whales and the menace of microplastics – how we’ll solve this problem

Our love affair with plastic began in the 1950s when it revolutionised manufacturing. But what...
A dolphin called Arnie with his shell.

Dolphins catch fish using giant shell tools

In Shark Bay, Australia, two groups of dolphins have figured out how to use tools...
Common dolphins at surface

Did you know that dolphins have unique personalities?

We all have personalities, and between the work Christmas party and your family get-together, perhaps...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

Meet Holly, she’s an incredible orca leader

Let me tell you the story of an awe-inspiring orca with a fascinating family story...

North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog Adds 8,000th Identified Whale!

WDC Senior Intern Kate McPherson has spent two summers with WDC cataloguing humpback whales.  As a seasoned photo-ID researcher, we asked her to blog about the 8,000th whale added to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue.  Her thoughts are below. 

Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s colleagues at Allied Whale have recently entered the 8,000th individual to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog which they curate. This catalog allows researchers to identify individual humpback whales by the unique markings on their flukes, and has been used in population studies since the 1970s. As a contributor to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog, WDC is very excited to share this news and recognize the significant effort it has taken to expand the catalog thus far.

The news of an 8,000th identified North Atlantic humpback whale is astounding in more ways than one. This individual whale was first seen in the tropical waters of the French West Indies in the Caribbean, and was re-sighted three years later off the coast of Norway, some 5,000 miles/8,000 km away! Not only is this an extensive migration, but it’s a journey through obstacles both seen and unseen that claim the lives of whales and dolphins each year. For example, shipping lanes between Europe and North America create a virtual game of Frogger for humpback whales migrating from their summer feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and their winter breeding grounds in the Caribbean. In addition to posing a high risk of collisions with the whales, these vessels also create an enormous amount of underwater noise which interrupts crucial behaviors such as feeding and communication, and can even lead to injury or death. Migrating humpback whales must also navigate their way through expanses of fishing gear, the leading cause of death for whales and dolphins, killing more than 300,000 each year. As if that weren’t enough, large baleen whales have been hunted in the Caribbean and continue to be hunted today by countries like Iceland and Norway.

With all the threats these humpbacks face, it’s amazing that individuals continue to survive their migrations year after year, and even more amazing that researchers have been privileged enough to observe and document 8,000 individuals for the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog. This invaluable resource will continue to allow organizations like Allied Whale and Whale and Dolphin Conservation to study and learn more about these incredible whales, and work to advocate for a future where they are free from harm. We look forward to seeing the day when the 9,000th or even 10,000th individual is added to this database!

 

Shipping lanes, with the waters of the Caribbean and Norway highlighted.