Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

35 Years of Research & Education

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    Gulf of Maine Humpback Whale Catalog Donate Now

    CCS has studied individual humpback whales since the 1970s. Our Gulf of Maine Humpback Whale Catalog contains detailed information for each individual, including age, gender, relatedness, reproduction, behavior, distribution and human impacts. These data serve as a powerful tool for increasing scientific knowledge and facilitating the management of this endangered species. Read our scientific publications for examples of how these data have been used. We also regularly share data off-line for bona fide research, conservation, management and education.

    SaltThe Gulf of Maine Humpback Whale Catalog is based on our own multi-decade research spanning the feeding range of this population, from the waters from Nantucket to Nova Scotia. We also curate the extensive research archives of the Whale Center of New England and receive submissions from a wide range of whale watching companies and organizations that collect data on local segments of the population.

    A humpback whale fluke photo-identification guide is available on-line to the Gulf of Maine whale watching community. This is only a subset of individuals seen in recent years and intended to faciliate on-water identification and education within the Gulf of Maine. For those working outside the Gulf of Maine, the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog (NAHWC) studies humpback whales across all of the feeding and breeding grounds in the North Atlantic and can facilitate matches to your whales.

    Each year, our cataloging efforts lead to a community whale naming process in the Gulf of Maine. CCS has led whale naming in the Gulf of Maine since the early 1980s, along with the Whale Center of New England and many participating groups. Before a whale can be named, it must be confirmed to be new to the population. We undertake an exhaustive process of matching "unknowns" and collating documentation of new calves. We then invite researchers and naturalists to provide suggestions and vote on the name that these individuals will be known by in future years.

    Gulf of Maine humpback whale names are based on the unique pigmentation patterns on the fluke (or occasionally other distinctive features, like "Salt" at right). The goal is to choose a name inspired by specific patterns so that they are easily recalled in the field. Giving names to individuals helps us to communicate about them across the wide range of the population. When you see a humpback whale off Cape Cod, it is known by the same name off of Nova Scotia! Names (versus numbers) also help the whale watching public to connect to these interesting animals as individuals with unique histories.

    We particularly thank the following groups for sharing information with us: Allied Whale, Bar Harbor Whale Watch, Blue Ocean Society, Boston Harbor Cruises, Boston's Best Cruises, Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises, Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, Captain John Boats, Capt Bill and Sons, Cape Ann Whale Watch, Dolphin Fleet, Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station, Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises, New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance, Quoddy Link Marine, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and others.


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