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Thank you for adopting Cameron, an Australian Humpback whale named by Richard Bourque from Nebraska in honor of Cameron Mitchel.
Pacific Whale Foundation has carried out research in Australia since 1984 to determine the migratory patterns, behavioral characteristics and population estimates of Australian humpback whales. 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 solitary animals by nature and the most common pod, or group, size is two animals. This represents the mother-calf pair. After a gestation period of almost a year, humpback whales give birth in their winter mating grounds. The moms will then nurse their newborn calf for almost a year and guide them on their first migration to their feeding grounds and back to the mating grounds.
Determining the sex of a humpback whale is difficult to do from visual sightings alone and typically moms are the easiest to confirm when there is a calf in their presence.
Humpback whales are identified by their fluke patterns, which are unique in coloration and markings to each individual whale. In essence, the humpback whale’s fluke patterns are the equivalent of our fingerprints. The flukes of humpback whales can measure ten to fifteen feet wide and the underside, or ventral side, of the flukes have the unique black and white patterns that are specific to each animal. Genetics play a role in the coloration patterns. Permanent markings from barnacles and/or scratches can also be used as identifiable marks.
Researchers get a brief look at the underside of the flukes and cherish high quality photographs to be used in photoidentification. It takes skill to capture a good image of the humpback whales’ flukes since the underside is not always seen. A prime photo opportunity is with a fluke up dive. The photographs are analyzed in the Pacific Whale Foundation research lab and compared against previous photographs stored in the fluke database for Hawaiian whales. When our researchers match a photograph it means the whale has been sighted previously and the process allows for resights and a basis to put together a whale’s story.
It is through photo-identification that Cameron was positively sighted by Pacific Whale Foundation. Cameron was first sighted on September 7, 2013 in Hervey Bay as an adult in a three adult and one sub-adult competition pod. On September 24, 2014, Cameron was sighted again in Hervey Bay and was positively identified as a female since she was with a calf.
Thank you for supporting Pacific Whale Foundation by adopting Cameron. Your adoption supports the ongoing research at Pacific Whale Foundation and we look forward to future sightings of Cameron and will share them with you.