Cruise the humpback whale

The Story of Cruise

Cruise is an Australian humpback whale named by Mark and Michelle Steigmeyer of Hawai’i.

Cruise was first sighted on September 24, 1990 as an adult in Hervey Bay and sighted again in the same season and region on October 1, 1990. On October 17, 1994, the Pacific Whale Foundation research team sighted Cruise again in Hervey Bay as a mom! She was seen again on October 10, 2000 with another calf. On October 21, 2002, Cruise was sighted with her third known calf. On September 8, 2006 she was sighted again but this time, she did not have a calf. However, she was sighed with a calf again on September 20, 2007. All of these sightings have been in Hervey Bay. The research team sighted her for the first time outside of Hervey Bay, in Eden, on November 13, 2008 and yes, she was with another calf!

Humpback whales are found in all of the world’s oceans, and are known for their seasonal migrations, considered one of 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.

The compilation of Cruise’s story was made possible through a process known as photo identification. Our researchers in the field take photos of the tail flukes and dorsal fins of the whales they encounter, noting the exact GPS location, time of day, pod composition, behaviors and weather conditions at the time.

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. To have so many resights of Cruise and many with a calf makes her a very special whale for our research team.

We thank you for adopting Cruise as your adoption supports the research efforts at Pacific whale Foundation.

Cruise sighting map