We need your help finding whales

The back of a whale with dorsal fin showing rises from the water.
Pygmy blue whale dorsal fin: note mottling (colouration and patterning on skin), photograph the left and right side of whale if possible and scars or unusual markings on other parts of the body (Photo: Michael Double)
The killer whale fin clearly shows markings and a white patch.Tail flukes of a humpackback whale.

The Southern Ocean Research Partnership is seeking images of Southern Ocean whales, in particular blue, killer and humpback whales, to add to our research database. We are keen to receive your identification photos and information about blue, killer, humpback or southern right whales you might spot while working or cruising in the Southern Ocean.

Our online whale sighting report form allows you to upload photographs and information to our database, making a valuable contribution to whale science and conservation. 

You can download the whale sighting report form [PDF] and use this to record your sighting offline for online entry at a later time or alternatively you can download the cetacean sighting report spreadsheet [XSL] to report multiple sighting events.

SORP greatly appreciates the assistance received from individuals, and the tourism, shipping and fishing industries in helping us to collect sightings data.

Whale identification photos

Examples of the sort of photos of key whale features we require for individual identification are shown in the images gallery. Whale, or cetacean markings, colouration, fins, flukes and scars can be used like fingerprints in humans to identify individuals. If you can provide high resolution images of the whales you see they will be entered into international image databases that help scientists understand whale distribution, movements and behaviour.

Tips for great whale identification

  • always try to take photographs when the sun is behind you and not behind the whale
  • when using a camera that has adjustable settings, use shutter speeds of 1000 to 2000 or the ‘sports/action’ mode which allows for a stop action effect when photographing a moving whale
  • ideally keep the aperture at 11 or higher as a greater depth of field is often needed with a large animal
  • ISO settings of 400 or 800 are best
  • record the date, time, and location (latitude/longitude) for the cetaceans that are photographed
  • also record how many whales were present and how many of those were photographed
  • please remember to clearly mark which sightings report each photograph relates to
 
This page was last modified on July 2, 2014.