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You Can Help with Whale Research

Humpbacks Useful photo

Humpbacks Not scientifically useful

Orcas Try to photograph the dorsal fin and markings on the animal's left side

Humpback photos are used as part of an international census effort. Orca photos are included in our own Newfoundland and Labrador orca dorsal fin registry. We acknowledge all submissions where possible.

Download You Can Help With Whale Research (PDF)


Newfoundland and Labrador is home to the world's largest gathering of humpback whales. Are the numbers going up or down? Where do the whales go? Do the same individuals hang out together year after year? Are people influencing where they go? Your photos can help to answer these and other questions!

Humpbacks Whale Tail Photo Information Referring to the "useful photo" on the top right:

  • The edge of the tail with its markings and scalloped edge need to be visible.

  • Half a tail may be useful, but full tails are preferable.

  • It is the underside or ventral side that is of interest.

  • The tail should take up a good 50 per cent of the photo or slide.

  • Any scar or markings that helps ID an individual whale of any species is useful.


How many orcas or killer whales are around Newfoundland and Labrador? Your dorsal fin photos will assist in answering this question.

Code of Conduct

Newfoundland and Labrador whale watching operators have developed a code of conduct which they follow to avoid disturbing whales. They always approach whales slowly and from behind. They operate their vessels in a quiet and respectful manner. They do not chase whales. They have no more than one vessel per whale (if someone is disturbing whales call the Adventure Tourism Association of Newfoundland and Labrador at 709.722.2000 or 1.800.563.0700). Local operators often don't get the chance to take scientifically useful photographs so we all encourage passengers to contribute useful photographs.

How to Submit

Send your photos (including the location, date, photographer's name and address, and any other interesting notes) to:

Atlantic Whales
Postal 124 Water St., P.O. Box 383, St. John's, NL, Canada, A1C 5J9


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