Scientists Want Your Whale Photos

The CARIB Tails project aims to identify, catalog and protect humpback whales.

Scientists behind a project called CARIB Tails are hoping boaters from the North Atlantic to the Caribbean will provide photos of humpback whales — those snapshots you get of their tails after the whales breach — to help with identification and protection of the species.

“Seeing a humpback whale while cruising the Caribbean is a memory that boaters never forget, and a photograph of its flukes helps scientists protect these spectacular animals,” Nathalie Ward of NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary stated in a press release.

By identifying individual whales, scientists can learn more about population sizes and migration patterns. The Stellwagen Bank sanctuary protects about a thousand whales that migrate to Maine each year from their breeding grounds in the Caribbean. When boaters send in photos of whale flukes, they can be matched to those in a database that has been maintained since 1976. That database currently contains more than 7,000 photographs. Yours could be added next.

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