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Whale Reports | Whale Report 6

Studying Fin Whales and More in Trinity Bay

Author Shawna Prince, Sea of Whales Adventures

Sea of Whales is a whale watching company operating out of Trinity, Newfoundland. One of our focuses is working in conjunction with other whale enthusiasts around Newfoundland and Labrador to identify and study several different species of whales. We have begun to photograph fin whales for identification purposes in our study area of Trinity and Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. It is our hope that through this study we will be able to determine whether the fin whales in that area come back to the same feeding grounds every year, as they do in other areas of the North Atlantic. Once we can identify individual whales we will be able to watch when they have calves, whether they are travelling in groups and what individuals are in these groups and perhaps, eventually, where they go when they are not in our area. We will be sharing data with other researchers in the North Atlantic.

Eight Photos for the Best Fin Whale Record

For this research, it is important to know how we can distinguish one fin whale from another. They have a distinct marking known as the chevron — a lighter coloured marking along the whale’s back beginning behind the blow holes running down the sides of the whale and slanting back towards the tail and then turning and ending right behind the eyes. Dorsal fins can be unique in these whales, especially shapes, sizes and scarring. Photographing both sides of the whale, four shots on each side, gives us a complete look at any markings, the dorsal fin and any scars the animal may have. All of this helps us to determine which whale we are looking at, and helps to compile a list of 'who’s who' in the fin whale population in our area. These shots are typically taken during the terminal dive when the whale really “kicks its back up” before diving deep. It is during this dive that the most of the animal can be seen.

All Images are Useful

We currently have 45 fin whales in our catalogue and hope to add many more next season. If you have any clear shots of fin whales that you would like to contribute to our catalogue, we’d love to have them. Please include information about where and when you took the picture and any other information about the sighting, if they were feeding, seen with other whales, etc. It is not necessary to have all eight shots for the photos to be useful; some whales are so distinctive we only need one shot. You can e-mail the pictures to Atlantic Whales or to: If you’d like to see our catalogue you can visit For more information about Sea of Whales please check out our website at

We look forward to seeing your shots!


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