Which Whale Will it Be?

[Update April 11, 2016: It’s Argonaut! Argonaut will be the next whale in our Humpback Sponsorship Program! Great thanks to all who provided their input. We will have Argonaut sponsorship packages available by mid-May.]

Which whale will it be? You decide!

We’re adding a Humpback Whale to our Marine Education and Research Society sponsorship program. Conger? Guardian? Freckles? Argonaut? All four of these Humpbacks are very regularly seen around NE Vancouver Island. Please see their photos and details below and provide your choice via a comment on this blog.

The whale that gets the most blog comments and “likes” on the related post on Facebook by April 11th will be the one added to the choices at  www.mersociety.org/sponsorship.htm.

(Psst MERS Humpback Whale sponsorship packages are just $43, benefitting so many Humpbacks since the funds support our work to reduce the threats of entanglement and vessel strike to whales in BC.)
which whale MERS sponsorship program.002

Conger (BCY0728) has been sighted around NE Vancouver Island every year since 2009. The nickname is due to what was perceived to be an eel-like shape on the right side of his/her fluke (fainter now). Conger is the first whale we documented “trap feeding”. This is a novel feeding technique being studies by MERS that appears to be used to efficiently feed on small, diffuse schools of juvenile herring. Conger is unique in that he often flukes his tail on every dive where most Humpback Whales will only fluke every 5 to 8 dives when they go on a longer dive. Conger has also been documented pursuing mammal-hunting Killer Whales (known as “Transients” or “Bigg’s Killer Whales)! Yes, that’s right PURSUING Killer Whales.
which whale MERS sponsorship program.001Guardian (BCZuk2011#4) is easily identified by her very white fluke with distinct black pattern and her hooked dorsal fin. If lucky enough to see her lunge feeding at the surface, it’s spectacular! She most often rockets out of the water vertically where most Humpbacks have more of a horizontal lunge through herring. And yes, we know Guardian is female from having seen her underside while she was tail lobbing. She’s been known to us at MERS since 2011 and who knows, this year she could return with her first known calf. Guardian had a very scary encounter with a log barge in 2015. See the video at this link. 
which whale MERS sponsorship program.003We’ve known Argonaut (BCY0729) since 2009 and s/he may be the Humpback Whale seen most predictably around NE Vancouver Island. We documented over 150 sightings of Argonaut in 2015 alone, most often within 1 km of Telegraph Cove. This makes this Humpback quite the ambassador for his/her kind, having been observed by thousands of whale watchers from around the world. You’ll note the distinct black A-shaped marking on the left side of fluke that is, in part, what inspired Argonaut’s nickname. There is also a connection to someone named Jason i.e. the association is with “Jason and the Argonauts” of Greek mythology.
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Freckles (BCY0727) was first documented in BC waters in 2009 when she appeared just outside Telegraph Cove. She certainly got our attention as she had such distinct white coloured, freckle-like markings. These pigmentation spots have faded since then but still make Freckles very easy to identify even when she doesn’t lift her tail for a dive. While Freckles is not yet known to have had a calf, we know she is female because we saw her “hemispherical lobe” when she was tail-lobbing. Only females have this mound on the underside of their bodies. In addition to lunge feeding, we have seen her use a bubble-net to concentrate small fish and she also knows how to trap feed. We know of at least two cases when she has been harassed by mammal-hunting Killer Whales.

Be sure to leave a comment indicating your choice for which whale will be added to the MERS Humpback Whale Sponsorship Program! Deadline is April 11th. 

About MERS

We are a non-profit organization dedication to promoting conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research and environmental education.
This entry was posted in Humpback Sponsorship Program, Humpback whales and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Which Whale Will it Be?

  1. Marie says:

    Freckles!! She’s always been one of my favourites!…not that I pick favourites 😉

  2. Diana says:

    I pick Argonauts. Favorite grandson now departed was his favorite.

  3. Jake says:

    Conger – both because he/she is a badass for pursuing transients, and because of the very helpful fluking behaviour.

  4. Gordon Curry says:

    Argonaut – For being so observable.

  5. kate racey says:

    Sofie’s Choice….Just can’t do it. I pick everyone.

  6. Beth says:

    Argonaut

  7. Steve Berryhill says:

    It’s the one and only Argonaut!

  8. Margaret says:

    Guardian: beautiful tail fluke + surviving close encounters with human traffic.

  9. Bill Mendenhall says:

    Argonaut

  10. Beverly Barfield says:

    Argonaut is my choice for several special reasons.

  11. reva says:

    My votes for Argonaut! 💕

  12. Jane says:

    Argonaut – definitely Argonaut. He is named for a tissue donor by his father. The donor was a champion swimming and some of his ashes are with the whales.

  13. Patty says:

    I vote for Argonaut

  14. Skip says:

    Argonaut – Great name

  15. Stephanie Gionet says:

    Argonaut who is the symbol of Jason, my late husband. I hope to visit you soon.

  16. Kathleen Doyle says:

    I vote for argonaut named for my son-in-law who was a great man much like this beautiful whale. Miss you 💕💓💕

  17. Lynn Barrett says:

    Argonaut would be a wonderful tribute. Tied for first, Conger for being so BRAVE going after the trans Orcas!

  18. Theresa Duncan says:

    Conger – cause I spent many happy hours observing him.

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