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

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

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.