July 6, 2004
Due to particularly rough seas, much of our watch was dedicated to "matching" efforts. Much like matching suspects from a line up, it is often small details that are important in confirming a match. The coloration of a humpback fluke provides one clue, but close attention also has to be paid to the pattern of the ridges along the trailing edge of the fluke, the barnacling patterns and the scars of past interactions with orcas. It is interesting to note that the majority of the markings that we are using to identify individuals are acquired within the first year of life, and those marks are highly conserved over the animal's lifetime.
The weather forecast predicts stormy weather for the next several days, and there have been discussions of rerouting our trackline to include the more sheltered waters of the Inside Passage. Though not in our original plan, many of us are excited at the prospect of this unexpected detour into a known area of high cetacean densities and spectacular scenery!
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