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Thank you for adopting Aroha. Aroha is a Australian humpback whale named by Craig Fletcher from New Zealand.
Pacific Whale Foundation has carried out humpback whale research in Australia since 1984 to determine their migratory patterns, behavioral characteristics and population estimates. This research has included shore, aerial, and water based studies on both the east and west coasts of Australia. Through the years, Pacific Whale Foundation has photo-identified more than 3,000 individual humpback whales along Australia's east coast.
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.
There is a population of more than 7,000 South Pacific humpback whales whose seasonal migration takes them along the eastern coast of Australia. During the warmer months of the year, these whales feed near Antarctica, in the Southern Ocean. From June to August, these whales can be seen along
Australia’s eastern coast, as they migrate northward. Fortunately for whalewatching enthusiasts, their migration is close to shore! The whales make their way along the coast to their breeding areas in warm tropical waters. The whales are seen again along Australia’s eastern coast from September through November, while they migrate southward back toward Antarctica. They typically stay further off shore on the northern migration and stay closer to shore on the southward migration, likely because of the young calves traveling with the mothers.
Whales are identified by the patterns on the underside of their flukes. The flukes of a humpback whale are wide and flat, and can measure ten to fifteen feet wide. The underside of the tail flukes (the "ventral" side) features coloration patterns of black and white, which vary from whale to whale. These coloration patterns are caused by genetics and by environmental factors, such as barnacle marks or scratches. These coloration patterns, and the shape of the flukes, make it possible for us to distinguish one individual whale from another.
We often get only a fleeting look at a whale's tail flukes as it dives beneath the sea. For that reason, our researchers work to capture photographs of the fluke. While one researcher is photographing the whale, an assistant is sitting nearby, writing down facts about the number of whales in the pod, their behaviors, the GPS coordinates, and other details.
The fluke photographs are later analyzed in our lab, and compared against fluke photos of whales that we have identified in past years. When our researchers find a "match" it means that we've seen the whale before in the past. By referring to the data recorded at the time of the whale's sighting, these "resights" make it possible for our researchers to piece together the whale's story.
By using Aroha's unique fluke patterns, researchers have positively identified this humpback whales on two occasions. On January 19, 2012, Aroha was sighted by Cat Balou cruises off the coast of Eden, New South Wales. No other information was submitted. Aroha was sighted again on August 27, 2013, by Pacific Whale Foundation researchers. Aroha was sighted as an escort to a mother-calf pair; therefore, Aroha is a male.
Thank you again for adopting Aroha. Your adoption supports the ongoing research at Pacific Whale Foundation.