At the end of last month NOAA released a publication of over 1,000 pacific-coast bottlenose dolphin pictures. The Catalogue [https://swfsc.noaa.gov/publications/TM/SWFSC/NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-566.pdf] is made up of close-ups of the dorsal fin, each one showing a unique scar and notch pattern with an identification code next to each fin. The scarring and notch pattern on the dorsal fin is used to identify individuals when they are seen again because they are persistent over time. A similar method is used to identify individuals of all species of cetacean. The underside of humpback whale flukes have distinctive black and white markings to varying degrees that persist over time, right whales have specific callosity patterns on their rostrum which can be photographed from above, and beaked whale can even have distinctive cookie cutter shark scars along their bodies which they obtain when they dive into deep water.
With migrations of gray whales peaking in mid-January along the Bay Area coastline, now is a good time to have a bit more in depth of a look at the gray whale. This organism’s conservation classification is not straight forward, even though their geographical range is relatively small, as there are different stocks positioned in different geographical locations with different population numbers.
The American Cetacean Society hosted their 15th international cetacean conference in Monterey last month. The conference included a host of well-known names and a ton of interesting current research. I want to share with you some of the topics that relate to the bay area as well as some of the interesting advances in the field of cetacean science.