26 Jul 2023

Rare Whale Sightings Aboard Heritage Explorer


Guests aboard Heritage Expeditions' Southern Fiords Discovery voyage made an exciting contribution to citizen science identifying two Humpback Whales, including one that had not been recorded in more than 16 years!

The two whales observed on our 18-guest expedition yacht Heritage Explorer in Doubtful Sound were part of larger pod of five whales and matched via Happywhale by Heritage Expeditions guides Lyn Wade and Toby Dickson.

Happywhale uses state-of-the-art image processing algorithms to match whale photos with scientific collections, identifying individual whales. Humpback Whales are identified by their flukes (tails) in particular their underside, matching the shape of the trailing edge, colouration and patterns on the fluke itself.

One individual (HW-MN1102352) was first photographed and identified in 2015 in Sydney, then 2018 in Hervey Bay and once again in 2023 with Heritage Expeditions in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland. The other individual (PWF-SP_3766) hadn't been identified since it was added to the database following a sighting in Sydney in 2006!

Two other whales, believed to be Sei Whales, were also observed on the same voyage.

The promotion of citizen science is central to Heritage Expeditions' commitment to supporting wildlife conservation and sustainable expedition travel. Founded by a family of biologists and adventurers, the pioneering New Zealand-owned and -operated small ship expedition cruise company has been exploring some of the world's most remote islands, shores and coastlines with intrepid travellers since 1984.

Image (c) by: Heritage Expeditions



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