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In 2008 the number of humpback whales in the North Pacific was estimated at just less than 20,000. This number is a far cry from the scant 1,400 humpback whales estimated in the North Pacific Ocean at the end of commercial whaling in 1966. Researchers are able to identify humpback whales by photographing and cataloguing pictures of the animals’ tail, or fluke, because the pigmentation patterns on the fluke act like a fingerprint and are unique to each animal. This sequence of photographs by Marc and Solange from France are exceptional in that they show three photos of the same whale diving (note the beach behind the tail) as well as the underside that would be used for identification. These photos were taken in Blackfish Sound near Telegraph Cove BC on Vancouver Island.
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