The ‘Plain Jane’ black flukes of this female sighted in March 2010 with her calf suggest that she may be from Southeast Alaska, where almost 60% of whale flukes are black. Even without white pigmentation, the shape and trailing edge of the whale’s flukes allow scientists to identify them as individuals.
Whales are creatures of habit and tend to be sighted year after year in the same feeding grounds, starting when their mother takes her calf to her home range in its first year of life. The mother and calf will stay together for about 11 months, but they are rarely found together in subsequent years, even though a female’s offspring will continue to inhabit her home range for the rest of his or her life. In contrast, only about 13% of whales are sighted in consecutive years in the Hawaiian Islands.
Try your luck at matching this fluke to Southeast Alaska whale catalog at www.alaskahumpbacks.org or British Columbia and let us know if you find her!