Humpback Whale Identification

Since I started this blog a bit over a year ago there have been quite a few posts about the humpback whales that we see here in Eyjafjördur. But today I realised that I never actually wrote about how you can recognize different humpback whales. Humpback whales are fantastic because it is possible to recognize them from the black and white pattern on the underside of the fluke. These patterns can really range from completely white to completely dark black and are so interesting. In different areas in the world there are extensive catalogues as scientists and researches have documented and re-sighted these whales for years. The unique pattern can also be used to come up with nicknames for the whales, which in some areas of the world is a very extensive process and is actually voted on. Here in Iceland is not done yet but we do sometimes come up with our nicknames, even if they are not official ones.

When you have two flukes that look very similar other markings along the body as well as shape and coloration/marking of the dorsal fin can also be used to figure out exactly which whale it is. If the whale has a completely whit or completely black fluke pattern the serrations on the edge of the fluke can be used to make a decision.

So here are just a few examples of the differences in fluke patterns that we see here in the fjord. In our catalogue of the fjord we so far have 78 different whales from last year and this year, three of which where seen in both years. But the season isn’t over yet 😉




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