Over the past six years, Kimberley Whale Watching has recorded tail fluke imges of Kimberley Humpback whales to add to a MICSPix database designed by Wheelock College in Boston, Mass. These photographs allow researchers to monitor the movement, health and behaviour of individual humpbacks as they migrate up and down the Western Australian coast.
As Humpbacks dive they raise their tail flukes above the ocean surface,enabling us to photograph the markings on the underside, or ventral surface, to add to the database. The first North Atlantic Humpback whale tail fluke catalogue was published in 1976 by Allied Whale. Individual humpbacks are identified by the patterns of black and white pigmentation and scars on the underside of the flukes of their tails, and by the patterns on the tail’s trailing edge, the distinctive S-shaped scalloped part on the outside of the flukes, which has pointed tips and a deep median notch in the centre. Tail flukes can be up to 5.5 m wide.
Whale Tails – Images by Annabelle Sandes & Richard Costin – Kimberley Whale Watching