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Adopt a Whale
Adopt a whale for the whale-lover in your life.
Contribute to valuable scientific research about free-swimming whales, and join the efforts to protect whales around the world.
For a $40 tax-deductible donation, you receive an adoption certificate with a color photograph of the whale of your choice, plus information about your whale.
For a $400 tax-deductible donation you can name and adopt a humpback whale.
For a $500 tax-deductible donation you can name and adopt a blue whale.
Oceanic Society started the Adopt-A-Whale program in 1988 as a way for the public to become involved in and support whale research in California and beyond. Your adoption will provide support to keep the project going and to help inform others about whale issues.
To Adopt a Whale:
Choose from the list below of humpback and blue whales that are currently available for adoption and to be named. To adopt or name a whale, complete the form at the bottom of the page, or click on the picture of the whale you wish to adopt.
Alexa: Blue whale ID #992
Blue whale Alexa (ID #992) was first encountered in the Santa Barbara Channel in September of 1994. Kristin Rasmussen of Cascadia Research was conducting a marine mammal survey in the Channel waters that mid-September day, when she came upon a group of blue whales that appeared to be so many animals that she wrote in her notes “whales everywhere!" Since 1994, Alexa has been encountered 43 times, always in the mid- to late-summer and always off Southern California. Although researchers suspected that Alexa was a female from her position of travel when seen in a pair (when a male and female are traveling in a pair, generally the female will travel in front of the male), it was not confirmed until the fall of 2010 when researchers were able to place a suction cup tag on her back to monitor her diving behavior. When the tag fell off after collecting 2 hours and 10 minutes of valuable dive data, the researchers found some sloughed skin in the suction cups which they were able to use to determine that Alexa was a female.
Understanding how blue and other whales are using the waters along southern California has been a major goal of researchers for the past few years, because southern California is also used by large ships that travel across the ocean to reach the commercial ports near Los Angeles. Unfortunately the plentiful food for the whales and the number of large ships in the waters does lead to whales being struck by vessels. Researchers are hoping that they can show where and when whales will be likely to use an area for food and how they will react to a vessel in the near area by using suction cup tags that monitor diving depths and elapsed time. So, Alexa (whale 992) is actually helping to teach show us how we can better protect blue whales along southern California!
Monty-Ray: Blue whale ID #107
Monty-Ray was first encountered in 1986 off northern central California, and has been seen 38 times following that initial sighting. The most recent sighting was 6 August 2010 when Monty-Ray was sighted with another blue whale swimming slowly along in the Santa Barbara Channel. Monty-Ray is easy to distinguish from a distance due to his/her damaged dorsal fin (see photo). We do not know what caused the damage to Monty-Ray's dorsal, although we can rule out killer whales because there are no killer whale sized “rake marks” around the dorsal fin. Killer whales will not prey on an adult or juvenile blue whale, but calves could get harassed and even killed if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Monty-Ray's injury was more likely caused by an entanglement, however, the dorsal fin has completely healed and it is unlikely that Monty-Ray is negatively affected by the shape of his/her dorsal fin.
Summer: Humpback whale ID #10059
Summer is a female humpback whale who was first identified on 15 August 1986 in the Gulf of the Farallones, near San Francisco. Since then, she has been a total of 67 times, including once, in 1995, with a calf. She has been seen most often in the Gulf of the Farallones, although sightings of this whale have also come from the Santa Barbara Channel, and from as far away as Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Humpback whales make seasonal migrations between high-latitude feeding areas and low-latitude wintering areas where they mate and give birth. Though often seen traveling, Summer has also been observed feeding in the food-rich waters off California.
Pumpkin is a female humpback whale, who was first sighted on the edge of Bodega Canyon off California on 18 October 1987. Since then, she has been seen more than 26 times in California and once in Costa Rica. She was last seen on 25 July 2010 off Morro Bay, California, milling around with 5 other humpbacks, including one calf.
In October 1996, Pumpkin was seen with a calf, and had also been seen off Costa Rica eight months earlier, without a calf. Given the length of time between these sightings and that the gestation period for humpback whales is approximately 11 1/2 months, we can conclude that she was pregnant at the time of the Costa Rican sighting. Humpbacks make seasonal migrations between high-latitude arctic feeding areas and low-latitude wintering areas that are used to mate and give birth. Cascadia Research has also recently collected data that shows that Costa Rica is one of these breeding and calving grounds for North Pacific humpback whales.
Pumpkin was seen in both 2004 and 2005 off central California. In 2005, she had a new calf with her, (ID #12091). This was Pumpkin’s fourth documented calf. Her calf from 1996 (ID #10912) has been seen many years and as recently as 2007 with sightings off both California and Costa Rica. Her calf from 2005 has been seen as recently as 2008 and these were in late November suggesting that, like her mother, this animal tends to stay late in the Fall off California. Adopt me!
Diego: Humpback whale ID #10002
Diego was first sighted in the Gulf of Farallones in August, 1983. Since that first sighting Diego has been encountered in years 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 in the Gulf of Farallones. He has also been sighted numerous times along California's Central coast during the Summer and Fall months. Diego has been seen along mainland Mexico in the winter months 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
In the winter of 2004 Mexican researchers noted that Diego was breaching (jumping out of the water completely), tossing his tail into the air, and slapping his pectoral fins down on the water. These dramatic displays can be very exciting to watch, and whales often exhibit such behavior on the breeding and calving grounds. Humpback whales travel to warmer waters in the winters to calve and mate, then return to the more productive waters in the north to feed over the summer. Adopt me!
Chomp: Humpback whale ID #10713
The visible injuries on Chomp's fluke were likely caused by a killer whale biting down with its sharp teeth. Luckily Chomp was able to get away alive, but the scars from the tooth marks will always be visible on the fluke. Young humpback whales are more likely to have encounters with killer whales than older/larger humpback whales.
Shred: Humpback whale ID #10570
Shred, a female humpback whale, was first sighted in 1991. She is easily identified because of the damage to her fluke, which was well healed at the time of the first sighting. Before a terminal dive Shred tends to lift her fluke up much higher than other humpback whales.
Despite the injuries Shred has been encountered regularly since 1991, and she travels great distances as we found when she was sighted in Panama during the winter of 2003. Resighted in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005. Most recently identified in the Santa Barbara Channel April 2008.
It is not known what caused Shred's injuries, but some typical causes of injuries on whales are encounters with boats, killer whales, fishing gear, and sometimes weakened whales will be preyed on by sharks.
Janna: Humpback whale ID#9001F
Janna, whose gender is currently unknown, was first identified near Pt Arguello, Southern California, on August 10, 1987. ince then it has been seen over a dozen times along the California coast, including places like San Luis, Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, and the Santa Barbara Channel. Sometimes alone or in the company of a variety of other individual humpbacks, this whale has generally been seen slowly travelling or just milling about.
Howard II: Humpback Whale ID # 9007
Howard II was first encountered July 1988 off of Port San Luis, Central California. The second time that researchers photographed # 9007 occurred October 1991, very close to the area that this whale had been first encountered. From 1991 through 2008, Howard II was encountered every year, only missing years 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007. Howard II has been encountered 28 times with 27 sightings occurring along the California coast, and a single encounter in February 2006 off Nicaragua. During the summer this whale seems to favor central California, with more encounters in Monterey Bay than any other area surveyed.
Howard II is most likely a male, since “he” has been observed in the “escort” role in mother-calf-escort groups off California in 1997 and 1999, and in the winter off Nicaragua in 2006. During the 1999 encounter in Monterey Bay, Howard II was an escort to the mother (whale #9038, a whale that was first identified in July 1988 off Port San Luis) and calf (whale #11315). The calf (#11315) has been seen in Monterey Bay in 2003, 2005 and most recently in 2006. Adopt me!
Sharktip: Blue whale ID #372
Sharktip, named for the dorsal fin shape and sightings in the Gulf of Farallones, was first encountered in Monterey Bay in 1986. Most of the sightings of Sharktip were off of northern and northern central California. Sharktip has been seen on 7 different occasions in the Gulf of Farallones and 7 times in Monterey Bay. Sharktip has been seen in the company of as many as 7 whales, and is often seen with other whales.
Sharktip is often sighted milling, and in 2001 was observed surface lunge feeding in Monterey Bay. Surface lunge feeding is when a whale lunges at the surface with its mouth open,engulfing thousands of gallons of water and prey. Sharktip was named for the numerous encounters of him/her around the shark filled waters of the Farallon Islands and for the shape of dorsal fin which has a small injury, making it appear to have a shark shaped dorsal fin. Adopt me!
Gus Whaley: Humpback ID #9029
Gus Whaley, a male, was first photographed 22 July 1988 off Central California. Since that initial encounter he has been identified 40 times, with the most recent encounter occurring 15 August 2008 off Port San Luis. This whale has been identified on the calving and breeding grounds of Mainland Mexico 1990, 1992, 1996 and 2002. In 2008 he was encountered off Nicaragua 17 February, and on 4 May of the same year this whale was resighted 2,172 nautical miles north in the Santa Barbara Channel! Although this whale is capable of traveling great distances, he has not been sighted north of Monterey Bay California. The summer sighting history of this whale shows that he primarily is sighted in the Santa Barbara Channel, with 21 of the 33 California encounters occurring in that area.
The ventral side of Gus Whaley's fluke shows that he has had at least one serious encounter with killer whales. Multiple and close set parallel white lines, such as the ones seen on the ventral fluke of # 9029 are the healed scars left from the teeth of killer whales. Killer whales will often grab the pec fin or fluke of a humpback whale (especially calves or yearlings) to try to hold the whale underwater. Whale # 9029 had rake marks on his flukes when he was first photographed in 1988, however during 1994/1995 he accumulated additional rake marks. This is clearly a lucky whale to survive at least two killer whale attacks. Adopt me!
Chief: Humpback whale ID #9018
Chief was first photographed by Mexican researchers in 1985 near Isla Isabel, which is located about 30 kilometers west of Mainland Mexico. This whale was seen again of Isla Isabel in February 1989, in Bahia de Banderas in December 1991, and off the tip of the Baja Peninsula in March 1993. In all, this whale has been encountered 21 times with the northernmost encounter occurring off Point St George in Northern California in October 1992. From 1990 to 1999 this whale was seen off northern California in the mid to late summer months. The most recent encounters of this whale occurred during July 2000, and August 2005 and 2008 off southern central California. It is possible that Chief has shifted his/her summer feeding area farther south in more recent years to adapt to changes in food availability.
This humpback whale like all others of its species can be distinguished from all other humpback whales by the pigmentation and trailing edge pattern on its fluke. Chief has a speckled pattern on both tips of its ventral fluke, and a possible injury in the fluke notch that appears as a white scar at the center of the fluke. Sometimes the injuries on the flukes can tell us about the history of the whale, some have killer whale “rake marks” (actually killer whale teeth marks), and other whales have clean slices missing that were possibly caused by interactions with vessels or fishery gear. Although Chief has some small injuries on its fluke, at this time it is not possible to determine how the injuries were obtained. Adopt me!
Bubble Blue: Humpback whale ID #9002
Bubble Blue was first identified off Central California in July 1988. From 1988 to 2008, Bubble Blue has been encountered 23 times off California, primarily in the Gulf of Farallones. Bubble Blue was sighted twice in the end of the summer of 2008. The August encounter occurred off of Port San Luis where Bubble Blue was in close proximity to one other humpback whale and a second pair swam nearby. All animals in the two pairs were exhibiting “milling” behavior which is generally characterized by non-directional swimming.
The second encounter in 2008 occurred exactly a month later in Monterey Bay, again Bubble Blue was milling close to another humpback whale. Bubble Blue is generally encountered in the company of at least one other whale, but in 1989 this whale was sighted with seven other whales in the Gulf of Farallones, a very productive area for whales to feed. Although we know from photo id and genetic samples that humpback whales that feed off central California tend to migrate primarily to Mainland Mexico to mate and give birth during the winter months, Bubble Blue has not been identified during the winter season, so we cannot know which of the 4 primary breeding/calving regions this whale uses. Adopt me!
Kaplan Kids: Humpback whale ID #9019
Kaplan Kids, a female, was first encountered in the company of five other whales in July 1988 off Southern Central California. From 1988 to 2008, she has been encountered three times off Southern Central California (1988), twice off Mainland Mexico (January 1997 and December 2001), and over the years 78 times of Northern Central California (75 of those encounters in Monterey Bay).
Kaplan Kids was first sighted with a calf on 3 August 2005 in Monterey Bay. The mother and her calf (whale #12049) were sighted slow traveling, feeding and milling in close proximity to each other 19 times from early August to 17 October, 2005. That first year the researchers noted that the calf sustained an injury on its left side. The following year Kaplan Kids was sighted slow traveling by herself in Monterey Bay 12 July. Her calf #12049 was not seen in 2006, but it was seen the following year in Half Moon Bay in mid October, where the Cascadia researcher Erin Falcone who observed the two year old noted that the whale was “small.” Kaplan Kids' calf was last seen in October of 2008 in Monterey Bay a few days earlier than the October sighting of her mom. Adopt me!
Rain: Blue whale ID #2283
Rain was seen on four occasions off California in 2006. The sightings spanned a one month period from 25 July to 23 August and were all offshore of La Jolla and San Diego, California. This was part of a shift in blue whales that year where they were being seen in large numbers off San Diego from May into August. This whale was only seen as a single and not paired or associated closely with another blue whale. It also had large numbers of a parasite that appeared to be a species called Pennella, a large copepod that burrows its head into the skin of a whale and feeds on blood and inflamed tissue. Researchers managed to attach a small suction cup tag to this whale that provided detailed data on diving and other underwater behavior before falling off.
Name a Blue Whale
Blue whale ID #774 is available to be named!
Blue whale ID #774 was first encountered 10 July 1992 in the Santa Barbara Channel. From 1992 to early 2012 whale #774 has been encountered 30 times with the most recent encounter occurring 14 August 2011 off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In 1998 this whale had a small skin sample collected, and we learned that ID #774 is a male. ID #774 has never been encountered south of California, and 20 of the 30 encounters occurred off southern California. The injury to ID #774’s dorsal fin is not a serious injury, but photos collected over time do show that the dorsal fin has acquired additional nicks and scars, likely caused by net or plastic line catching in the dorsal fin. Blue whale populations along the US west are increasing, but at a much slower rate than humpback and fin whales, and one of the reasons of the slow recovery may be due to ship strikes. To determine blue whales behavior in the presence of large vessels, researchers from Cascadia Research have been putting suction cup tags on blue whales to track their movements in shipping lanes. In mid August 2011 researcher John Calambokidis encountered #774 swimming in the shipping lanes leading into Long Beach California. John photographed #774 and then placed a tag on the whale’s back. Dive and movement data from this tag as well as others deployed and recovered in 2011 were used to show that blue whales tend to take more shallow dives and surface more often when vessels were in the area than when there were none. Tag data also showed that blue whales sometimes rest at the surface at night, which further increase the chances that a whale will be hit by a vessel. This important information has been used to create guidelines for large vessels accessing the port of San Francisco during the summer when whales are most likely to be feeding near shipping lanes.
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