Like fingerprints in humans, humpback whales have distinctive and unique coloration patterns on the underside of their tail fin (fluke).
Gotham Whale is cataloging the photographs of the whales we have seen in the New York area. These identifications allow us to make definitive statement about our whales. Without such identities, it is impossible to say how many (we may count the same whale twice), how often (is that the same whale?), and where do they go (has it been seen in other waters?).
Our researchers and citizen scientists have provided these images, and with them, we have already confirmed that the same whale has returned from a previous year. As we share with other researchers, it may be that these whales will be seen at other locations and give us a better idea of their movements. Gotham Whale will post this research as we analyze the data.
Once we have matched our flukes against those of other researchers, we will look to name our whales. Stay tuned for names with a New York flavor.