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Familiar Flukes

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Friday, September 27, 2013

Julien

The end of August was full of excitement with more lunge feeding, krill at the surface and many familiar flukes! A part of our research on-board deals with identifying the different individuals of blues that visit us every year and we’ve had some whales come back to the area multiple times. Some have different personalities, and some even have distinct tails that make them easily identifiable anywhere they go. We had the opportunity to spend the end of August with many infamous flukes as these blues were taking deep dives to gulp their krill.

One of the most infamous of the blues we have been identifying lately is nicknamed ‘Hook’. This whale has been sighted the last couple of years and this individual is very hard to miss. Hook is a smaller blue who has a very distinct fluke that either was injured in the whale’s past or is a birth defect. As you look at the photos of Hook provided, you will see that the fluke is not all there and the peduncle (the area of the body right before the fluke) is also different looking than other whales; probably to compensate for the deformity. Hook definitely has a different ‘gate’ than the other whales and lately we have been seeing a larger whale swimming and feeding very close to Hook. One of our goals is to identify whale interactions. By analyzing the photos, we can tell if Hook is always swimming next to the same whale or not. We will see in the days to come if this is, in fact, is the same whale alongside Hook! Other whales that we have seen lately, according to local researcher, Alisa Shulman-Janiger, are nicknamed Delta and Triangle. Delta has a very distinctive fluke where each end points upward while Triangle is one of the largest whales we have seen within the last few years who is over 90 feet long! The photo IDing has really allowed us to get to know these blues very well and continue to explore more about their behaviors!

Along with the many flukers, we have also had a continued showing up surface lunge feeding by the blues! Sometimes, these whales get very close to the boat, which makes a very memorable experience for the guests and even us! Because of the amount of krill there have been many feeding frenzies with common and bottlenose dolphins, fins, minkes, Risso’s, sea lions, and sea birds that are feeding on the fish that are being eaten by the krill, or eating the krill itself. Having this amazing food source right at the surface creates an amazing live food chain that guests can enjoy.

If you want to see something that many people do not get to see in their life, come aboard and search for marine life with us!

Familiar Flukes
Another blue whale fluke.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Familiar Flukes
This fluke shows that not all are alike! Many flukes have defining characteristics which allow us to ID each individual.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Familiar Flukes
An incredible shot of a blue whale lunge feeding for krill at the surface right next to the boat!  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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