This photo identification catalogue was created to identify individual humpback whales seen in Scottish waters and other parts of the UK. Within the UK, sightings are most common on the west and east coast of Scotland, as well as the Northern Isles and east coast of England.
To date,there have been several matches of individual whales in Scottish waters to Norway, Svalbard, Iceland, The Netherlands, Guadaloupe,Cape Verde and the Azores. Individuals have also been re-sighted in Scottish waters(same or different areas) in subsequent years..
Humpbacks in Scottish waters are more frequently observed around about the time when they migrate south to Cape Verde or the Caribbean,and on their northward return to feeding grounds in high latitude areas. However they have been seen in all months.There are several hotspots where humpbacks are seen including the Firth of Forth,Shetland and Tiumpan head on the Isle of Lewis.
Over the last 5-10 years there has been an increase in sightings, fuelled in part by the exchange of information by social media. This has enabled cetacean watchers to quickly become aware of sightings and to share photographs of the same individuals. For example, a recent match to The Netherlands involved a humpback that was first observed in January 2017 which stayed until early March. Later in March it appeared in the Firth of Forth and stayed for a few weeks joining 2 others that had been around for a few months.
The increased interest in cetaceans,coupled with digital photography, has provided the photos in the catalogue from which the ID features of individual humpbacks have derived. If you would like to contribute any photos from around the UK, please send fluke or dorsal photos to the above contact email address.Before sending any photos that someone else has taken,please ensure permission has been given. Similarly,if you intend to use any of the photos in this catalogue please request permission to do so and inform us of any matches made.
This is a citizen science project and thanks to everyone who has contributed photos and data.
I hope you enjoy!
A humpback breaches off Granton, Firth of Forth,by ©Ron Macdonald.
Humpback feeding in Shetland,drone photo by ©Hugh Harrop Shetland Wildlife.