This season we have been incredibly lucky with whale encounters! Sarah from the Expedition Team introduced guests to a citizen science project called "Happy Whale" and how to take appropriate photographs for whale photo identification.
Photo ID has been used for decades by scientists to identify markings on an animal and in this way being able to track it through time and space. These photographs are high-value data for tracking then this individual over lifetimes working with the researchers around the world. This helps scientists study important ecological questions, such as lifespan and survival, population health, migration patterns, and social dynamics. Once the photos are sent to Happy Whale and uploaded, they are compared and checked if this individual whale has been spotted before somewhere on the globe.
In the beginning of February, during a zodiac tour, we spotted a humpback whale mother and a calf. The calf was very active, breaching a few times as well! Sarah took several pictures and also encouraged guests to do so. After the voyage, Sarah uploaded all pictures she received to Happy Whale and a couple of weeks later got a reply from Happy Whale! "OUR" whale was seen and photographed several times before! Also in 2017 when it was in Panama! If you want to follow the whale: her name is HW-MN1300022!