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Identifying Humpback Whales using their natural markings


One must suppose that even before Melville transformed the true story of an unusually lightcoloured Sperm Whale named Mocha Dick into his epic novel, Moby Dick, and certainly afterwards, whalers and zoologists working in the whaling industry have noted that pronounced morphological differences often exist among whales of the same species and stock (Lillie, 1915; Matthews, 1937; Pike, 1953). During the past 15 years, scientists studying living whales have commented on individuals with odd marks, scars, pigmentation patterns or albinism, deformities, algal films or the shape and position of external features such as the dorsal fin.

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Brown S. G. 1978. Whale marking techniques. In: Stonehouse B. ed. Animal marking. London, MacMillan, p 7180.
Darling J. D. and others. 1979. Observations on the abundance and behaviour of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) off West Maui, Hawaii, 1977–1979. (Abstract of a paper presented to the Third Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 1979. Seattle, Washington, National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Laboratory.)
Jurasz V. P. and others. 1980. Possible sexing technique for Humpback Whales. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol 37, No 12, p 2362–63.
Katona S. K. and Kraus S. 1979. Photographic identification of individual Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae): evaluation and analysis of the technique. Washington, DC, Marine Mammal Commission. (Publication No P8–298740.)
Katona S. K. and others. 1979. Identification of Humpback Whales by fluke photographs. In: Winn H. E. and Olla B. L. eds. The behavior of marine animals, Vol 3. New York and London, Plenum Press, p 3344.
Katona S. K. and others, eds. 1980. Humpback Whales: a catalogue of individuals identified in the western North Atlantic Ocean by means of fluke photographs. 2nd ed.Bar Harbor, College of the Atlantic.
Kraus S. and Katona S. K. eds. 1977. Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the western North Atlantic. A catalogue of identified individuals. Bar Harbor, College of the Atlantic.
Lillie D. G. 1915. British Antarctic (‘Terra Nova’) Expedition, 1910. Natural History Reports. Zoology, Vol 1, No 3, p 85124.
Matthews L. H. 1937. The Humpback Whale, Megaptera nodosa. Discovery Reports, Vol 17, p 792.
Mitchell E. D. 1974. Present status of northwest Atlantic fin and other whale stocks. In: Schevill W. E. ed. The whale problem. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, p 106–61.
Payne R. 1976. At home with Right Whales. National Geographic Magazine, Vol 149, No 3, p 322–39.
Perkins J. and Whitehead H. 1977. Observations on three species of baleen whales off northern Newfoundland and adjacent waters. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Journal, Vol 34, No 9, p 1436–40.
Pike G. C. 1953. Colour pattern of Humpback Whales from the coast of British Columbia. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Journal, Vol 10, No 65 p 320–25.
Schevill W. E. and Backus R. H. 1960. Daily patrol of a Megaptera. Journal of Mammalogy, Vol 41, No 2, p 279–81.
Whitehead H. P. and others. 1980. Migrations of Humpback Whales past the Bay de Verde Peninsula, Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol 58, No 5, p 687–92.
Whitehead H. and Payne R. 1981. New techniques for assessing populations of Right Whales without killing them. Washington, DC, Marine Mammal Commission. (Publication No PB81–161093.)
Winn H. E. and others. 1973. Cytological sexing of Cetacea. Marine Biology, Vol 23, p 343–46.
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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
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