It’s taken a while (specifically…an estimated 355 hours on/ in the water, plus more than 150 hours to download, tag, sort, look through, and edit photos and notes), but I’ve finally been able to go through all our humpback whale calf images from our 2009 stay in Tonga and compile this summary document.
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v1 (03 Oct ’09)
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v2 (08 Oct ’09, added two calfs)
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v3 (28 Oct ’09, added one calf, whose mother also had a calf in 2008)
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v4 (06 Nov ’09, added one calf)
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v5 (02 Apr ’10, added one calf)
Summary of humpback whale calfs: 2009, v6 (08 Oct ’11, corrected sex ID of Luna (calf #13) on summary table)
The PDF document is large file (v6: 42 pages, around 14.5MB), so if you are in a location with limited bandwidth, it may take some time to download.
(In case you’re interested in comparing with the 2008 season, my 2008 summary is here.)
In total, we photo ID-ed 26 calfs in the Vava’u area this year (plus 3 more with the help of other people), compared with 14 in 2008. By all accounts, the 2009 season is a banner year for baby whales in Tonga.
The document is a work-in-progress, as I hope that other people will contribute data to augment the list of calfs that we were able to identify. If you have any images and information about additional ID-able calfs, please let me know.
What I’m looking for is (a) images, dates and locations of sightings of calfs not contained in this document, and (b) additional dates and sightings of calfs that are already in this document.
If you send information, please send low-res jpgs. I will only include additional data if I can verify the relevant calf sighting with photographs. It’s too easy to make mistakes based on memory alone.
I know, because I initially mis-identified Daruma (calf #23/ 2009) as Mei Mei (calf #22/ 2009). When you’re in the water, it’s difficult to be 100% accurate with IDs, so it was only during the photo/ video editing process that I realised my mistake.
For the first time, we carried portable GPS units this season, marking the locations of our calf sightings. Here is a map of our ID-ed calf sightings:
View Calf IDs Tonga 2009 in a larger map
And this is a map of calfs we saw, but were unable to ID:
View Unidentified Calfs Tonga 2009 in a larger map
If all goes well, I’ll put together another document during my 2010 stay in Tonga, which I hope will be another year with lots of baby whales.