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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...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...

I’ll tell you whale i’ve been … Part 1!

Following on from the exciting discovery made by IWDG and others of a travelling humpback whale in the north east Atlantic, thanks to photo-id (where individual whales can be recognised over time due to distinctive and unique markings on the underside of their flukes) researchers are slowly pulling together the different pieces of the jigsaw and are getting closer to unravelling the mystery of the migratory pathways of humpback whales in the north-east Atlantic.

In truth however, the advancement in understanding where these whales are coming from and going to is moving along in leaps and bounds. Just the other day for example, a match was made between a humpback whale seen off the coast of Ireland with a humpback whale seen off the coast of Iceland only weeks earlier. Every sighting is taking researchers a step closer and all thanks to photo-id and the different researchers determination to find out more!

In addition to sightings in higher latitudes, researchers at IWDG have spent the last few years undertaking humpback whale research in the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, with the belief that these islands represent a breeding ground for northeastern Atlantic humpback whales. And their hard work appears to be paying off as not only was one Cape Verdean humpback resighted in the Azores, possibly en route to the northern feeding grounds but three other individuals from the Cape Verde Islands have also been photographed on feeding grounds off Bear Island, Norway and Iceland. 

As with other humpback whale populations, it is thought that there is a strong loyalty to these summer feeding areas and that this faithfulness is driven by the females (specifically the mothers) and maintained over generations. As you might imagine, this knowledge of where to find food is hugely important for the whales and given that is is passed down from generation to generation every individual whale plays an important part in ensuring the long-term viability of humpback whales in the north-east Atlantic. To lose even one individual (and especially a mother) – whether due to Icelandic whaling or entanglement in fishing gear – could be catastrophic for the population as a whole.

Thanks to a variety of researchers throughout the region work is on-going trying to understand the north-east Atlantic humpback whale conundrum and as soon as there is more news to share we’ll be sure to bring it to you however if you fancy finding out more about these wandering whales then the researchers recent publication makes for interesting reading.

In the meantime you can help support our work by adopting a humpback whale.