This is just a perfect photo isn't it? The rainbow is the extra sprinkles on top. Lets give Capt. Frank a big thumbs up!
Now that's gorgeous. Capt. Frank got us a great shot! Crazy good day today! We encountered 23 Gray Whales, not counting at least 10 other spouts we saw in the distance! Whales everywhere!
It's not uncommon to see dolphins hanging out with the Grays, especially when there's a baby.
Hey there you guys want some company?
Yep, there's the red buoy in Dana Point. Just several thousand more miles to go!
Northbound Mom and Baby Gray Whale. Looks like Mom rolled over to interact with her baby.
We still have room for some of our trips tomorrow! Hurry and you'll get to come out with us.
We saw 14 Gray Whales yesterday! Come look for Moms and Babies like this pair with us!
Got plans for this weekend? Come out with us to see the Grays' migration north!
The whales are busy going up north! Not unusual to see more than one of them at a time.
How's that for a sunset view? Hmm?
(4pm Sunset Whale Watching trips for only $29!)
You ready? We saw 19 Gray Whales today! Our passengers on the Pride had a great time!
Sometimes those dolphins like to hang our with the whales, especially when there are babies.
MARINE BIOLOGY WEDNESDAY by Eric Austin Yee
Individual Whale Identification Techniques
The whale watching world is full of whales that most whale watching enthusiast would consider celebrities in our oceans! Often whales can be easily identified by certain habits or obvious traits that make them stand out. Bring up names like Scarlet, Hook or Scoopfin to a whale watching naturalist from Southern California and they definitely will be able to tell you what kind of whale is behind the name and how it earned the name. You might be thinking, “Don’t all whales look the same?” or “You see one whale, you’ve seen them all”. Well, trust me! There are many ways to tell individual whales apart and it is not too hard to do so if you really look at the unique features on a whale. The identification of individual whales is not only important to researchers, but also a brand new way to spread interest and the conservation of whales. Technology has got to the point where anyone can identify individual whales, you no longer have to be a marine biologist or a researcher to do so.
How do we identify individual whales?
The most common way to start identifying a whale is to photograph the whale from both the left and right side to capture its identifiable features. This technique was pioneered with whales by the late Dr. Michael Bigg in the 70’s. Bigg discovered that orcas could be identified by simple photos of the side photograph of the animal. Depending on the species of whale, various features such as the dorsal fin, flukes(tail), scars and markings can be utilized. Dorsal fins not only vary in shape and size from species to species but are unique to each individual animal. Notches and scars are also commonly found on the edges of dorsal fins also aid in the identification process. These notches and scars are obtained in various ways, such as fighting, play or from injuries. These notches and scars can heal or change over time, so constant monitoring and new photos are needed to keep identifications current and correct. For animals such as orcas, the dorsal fin and saddle patch, a white area just behind the orca’s dorsal fin can be used also. The saddle patch vary in shape and size between different individuals and also can have distinctive markings within it. On blue whales, the dorsal fin and blotches or spots below the dorsal fin on the whale’s body are primarily used to identify an individual blue whale. The dorsal fin matching technique is also regularly used with bottlenose dolphins also. A recent catalog of coastal bottlenose dolphin photographed from California to Northern Baja, Mexico contained close to 1,300 dorsal fin identification photos!
Photos of the whale’s flukes is also a common way of whale identifying a whale. This is a technique widely used on humpback whales. The shape of the flukes and underside of the flukes are full of markings and patterns that make an individual humpback whale a one of a kind. Some compare the underside of a humpbacks flukes to a human’s fingerprints. Sometimes creative researchers will see markings under a fluke that resemble an object and that will earn the humpback whale its name.
So why do we want to identify individual whales?
Identifying whales as individuals has many beneficial reasons. Population sizes and social structures of whales are helped determined by photo Identification projects done around the world’s oceans. Most researchers share the ID photos they gather to see if their colleagues working in other areas recognize or can match animals with the photos they have acquired. This can help figure out the animals migration or travel patterns. Repeated sightings of identified animals can also aide in figuring out a animals age also. Photographic identification of whales is also a non-invasive way of tracking whales, no tags or devices are needed to be attached to the animal. There has been recent controversy about tags attached to whales possibly causing wounds that could lead to infections. Conservationist also see identifying a whale as an individual as a way to help people bond with whales and spread the word about the effort to help whales and their habitat.
Who identifies individual whales? You can!
The process of identifying individual animals can be a major task for researchers. Often thousands of photographs have to be sorted and edited to start the identification routine. These photos are placed on a computer or printed catalogs, kind of like a yearbook for whales. Over the years various types of programs have been used by researchers to make this strenuous task easier. These programs help sort out animals with certain attributes to help to make a match much easier. Most of these programs can be quite complicated and still required much human input to verify a match. The current wave of new programs are steering towards instant and automated matching.
Recently, a program called Happywhale has made the identification process quite simple and fun for anyone. Happywhale has been utilized by those in the watch watching industry worldwide and can be used by any whale enthusiast. A user can simply log on to Happywhale.com and upload a photo of a whale they have photographed to have it identified. Using image processing algorithms, Happywhale will try to match the user’s photo to extensive photo collections supplied by top researchers. In a short time, Happywhale will notify the user if the whale has been identified and supply various interesting information on the whale and previous sightings of that whale by other Happywhale users. The user even has the option of following up with the whale and receive notification if the whale has been spotted again. Happywhale is a great way to support the citizen scientist movement, proving you don’t have to be a marine biologist or work in the whale watching industry to help researchers identify and track whales. The program also hopes to inspire others to learn about whales and the conservation effort to help them in our ever- changing oceans.
So we saw a Fin whale yesterday. Have you seen one before? They are huge! About 70 feet long, with some as big as 80+ feet. Dark and sleek like a race car, they can swim pretty fast!
We saw 5 Grays and 1 Fin Whale today!
It's HALF PRICE Tuesday! We still see whales when there's fog you know.
17 Gray Whales! Yep, that's what we saw yesterday! Don't forget tomorrow is HALF PRICE Tuesday!
Our fleet ready for action! ( pic by Joe Bait )
Whenever you're in #DanaPoint, you should look out onto the water. You never know, a whale can be passing by!
Yesterday we had sightings of Humpbacks and 9 Gray Whales!! Whoohoo! Come enjoy the last day of the #FestivalofWhales with us!
#SpringForward #DaylightSavingTime A friendly reminder to change your clocks before you go to bed.