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Anona was named through the Pacific Whale Foundation Name-a-Whale program by Robin Conlon of California.
Humpback whales are found in all of the world’s oceans, and are known for their seasonal migrations, considered the longest in the animal kingdom. In general, humpback whales devote the warmest months of the year (summer) to feeding on krill and small fish in productive, cold waters, generally near polar regions. The whales live off the resulting fat reserves during the rest of the year. With the arrival of autumn and early winter, humpbacks migrate to warmer water areas, where they mate, give birth, and care for their young.
Anona is part of a population that winters in Hawaii and was sighted off the coast of Maui on January 6, 1997. Anona was seen resting at the surface and milling with one other individual. It is undetermined if Anona is a male or female as this is difficult to ascertain without getting a clear look at the underbelly of the animal. Another way to positively determine the sex of a humpback whale is if the whale is seen with a calf; therefore, concluding the adult is a female.
Whenever our research team encounters whales in the wild, things get very busy! One of the researchers notes the GPS coordinates of the whales and takes careful notes about the whales’ pod composition, behaviors, and directions of movement. Another researcher will take photographs of the whales, attempting to get as many clear photos as possible of each whale’s dorsal fin and the underside of its tail (an area known as the whales’ flukes). These photos allow us to identify individual whales. If you look carefully at the fluke identification photo of Anona on your adoption certificate, you will immediately notice the large and beautiful white patch that extends almost entirely over the flukes. The dark markings and peaks and valleys along the trailing edge will assist researchers in identifying Anona in future sightings.
Because whale flukes and dorsal fins each have unique pigmentation patterns, shapes and other distinguishing factors, we can differentiate one individual from another. Throughout the year in our research lab, our team compares photos obtained during recent field studies against photos of previously identified individual whales. It is always exciting to find a “resight” – a whale that was sighted before on one or more occasions.
Our research team will continue to collect photographic records of the whales that visit Maui County each year to compare against the existing catalog. We are hopeful that we will “resight” Anona soon and potentially confirm if this whale is a male or female.
Thank you for adopting Anona as your adoption fees support the ongoing research efforts at Pacific Whale Foundation. We hope you enjoyed learning about your whale.