Identification of Humpback Whales by Fluke Photographs

  • Steven Katona
  • Ben Baxter
  • Oliver Brazier
  • Scott Kraus
  • Judy Perkins
  • Hal Whitehead


Among the large baleen whales, humpbacks are notable for the variety of different white and black patterns and slight morphological differences which can be observed between individuals (Lillie, 1915; Matthews, 1937; Pike, 1953; Schevill and Backus, 1960). Observations in the field and inspection of photographs suggest that variations in the shape of the dorsal fin or in the disposition of body scars can sometimes be used to identify individual humpback whales. It is primarily the pattern on the underside of the flukes which appears to us to provide the most positive discrimination between individual humpback whales. This pattern varies from nearly all white to nearly all black, but characteristically contains a variety of black or white patches, lines or streaks.


Killer Whale Humpback Whale Gray Whale Baleen Whale Positive Discrimination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Katona
    • 1
  • Ben Baxter
    • 1
  • Oliver Brazier
    • 2
  • Scott Kraus
    • 1
  • Judy Perkins
    • 3
  • Hal Whitehead
    • 4
  1. 1.College of the AtlanticBar HarborUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstituteWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.WestonUSA
  4. 4.Cambridge UniversityCambridgeEngland

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