The Tongan Fluke Collective (TFC) aims to build a catalogue of tail fluke ID images of the Humpback whales visiting the Kingdom of Tonga during the breeding and calving season (July – October) to help scientists build a better understanding of their numbers and distribution.
Unfortunately the Tongan population of humpback whales are making a much slower recovery from whaling than other Southern Hemisphere populations. Researchers know that the whales visiting Tongan waters are also seen in other areas in the South Pacific. Through this initiative it is hoped to build a much clearer picture of the numbers and migration tracks of this population.
Like a human finger print the underside of a Humpbacks tail (fluke) carries unique patterns of marking individual to each animal. Clear photographs of the underside of the whale’s flukes as it dives are needed in order to see these unique patterns of light and dark, scarring, the shape of the fluke edge and the overall fluke shape. Taking photographs of whale flukes may not sound very useful, but it is a brilliant non-lethal way of gathering a lot of information on an individual whale over successive years and allows them to be tracked to different locations.
If you have visited Tonga and have clear images of the underside of Humpback tail flukes you can assist in this vital work by donating your photos to the TFC. Photographers are given full credit for their images and will be updated if their fluke has had a match with other sightings. Find out if you’re seeing an old friend again or welcoming a new individual from a well-known mum, by joining the TFC and assisting with knowledge-pooling on these beautiful whales.
Together we can make a real difference!
Group Coordinator: Scott Portelli (email@example.com)