Saga of the juvenile humpback whale goes on...Update

20th Nov 2007 Report III, 20/11/07

Wouter Jan Strietman reports that the Irish/Dutch Juvenile Humpback whale has been very active today in the Ijmuiden area of the North Sea. For the very latest images of this young and highly mobile whale, Click Here (click once for a larger version, then click once again to get an even larger version)

Report II, 19/11/07

Wouter Jan Strietman reports that the Juvenile Humpback whale has now returned to the Ijmuiden area today.

Report I, 17/11/07

During a week when southern hemisphere humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae are in the news for all the wrong reasons, this is an amazing running saga of the travels of a Juvenile Humpback whale whom in the past six months (May-November 07) has completed a 2,500km round trip within European waters.

Wouter Jan Strietman, North Sea Foundation contacted IWDG on 17/11/07 with images taken the previous day of a Juvenile Humpback whale off Ijmuiden, West of Amsterdam, North Sea. There is no doubt other than this is the same whale that we matched from a series of images taken by Conor Ryan off Toe Head, West Cork, on 28th Sept 07 during a whale watch trip with Colin Barnes.

The young humpback whale been observed from land on both 16th & 17th November among thousands of feeding Kittiwakes. A sample of images below from the three sighting events: May 10-13th Texel Isl., Netherlands, Sept 28th W Cork, Ireland and Nov. 16th Ijmuiden, Netherlands, show the dorsal fin and left flanks and prove this is the same individual. This fascinating twist once again shows the importance of international collaboration when trying to improve our understanding of the distribution and ecology of these long-distance travellers.

Sighting I, May 10th 2007, Texel Isl., Netherlands


Sighting II, Sept 28th Toe Hd., Co. Cork, Ireland

Humpback whale, W. Cork, Ireland 28/09/07 © Conor Ryan

Sighting III, Nov 16th 2007 Ijmuiden, Netherlands

Humpback whale, Ijmuiden, Netherlands © Leendert Langbroek KNRM

A summary of the facts thus far ....

On 10th May 2007 a humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae was observed in the North Sea off the Netherlands coast between Den Helder and Texel Island at 52˚ 58' 49'' N, 04˚ 45' 30''. The whale remained in the area until 13th May 2007. On the 12th & 13th May images suitable for photo-identification were obtained, although none were taken of the ventral surface of its tail-fluke, which is considered to be the best area for Photo-ID due to the unique and naturally occurring patterns found in this area. The whale appeared in good condition and despite swimming very close to the shore it showed no sign of live-stranding. The images obtained of this animal indicate that it was a juvenile, although estimates of its length range between 4-12 metres.

On 28th Sept. 2007 during a whale watching trip with Colin Barnes on the MV Holly Jo, a Juvenile humpback whale was observed and photographed by Conor Ryan, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG)off Toe Head, County Cork, Southwest Ireland at 51˚ 29' 43''N , 9˚12' 08'' W. Both observers have previous experience of this species and are confident it was a very young animal, whose length was in the c5-6m range. The associated gannet Sula bassana activity and the whale's “skimming” behaviour on the surface suggested strongly that it was feeding, and Colin Barnes, a former commercial fisherman, was of the opinion that it was feeding on sprat or smal