Identification in the whale tail

HUMPBACK whales frequenting waters off the Coffs Coast are being tracked across the South Pacific thanks to the work of local marine biologists.

In recent years, researchers at Southern Cross University have used photographs of breaching whales to identify 3000 individual humpbacks.

“The underside of a whale’s fluke (tail) is unique to every whale, much like a human’s finger print,” researcher Dan Burns said.

“Using the information we gather from the fluke photos, we now have a computer system up and running that can identify individual whales.

“Researchers have even spotted and identified those same whales in New Calendonia and Tonga.”

This week, Dr Burns and other SCU whale researchers will unveil their findings at the 10th annual conference of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in New Zealand.

The study group plans to track more of the migrating whales again this year, collecting their information as they pass Byron Bay.



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