Photo identification of humpback whales

Whale # 9 is one of the Nuup Kangerlua’s most whales that always come back. First photographed in 1992 and often seen in the fjord since then. Photo: Tenna Boye

The humpback whale’s tail pattern, like our fingerprints, is quite unique and can be used to recognize the whales apart from each other. The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources is building a catalog of humpback whales in Greenland. The Institute uses the ID catalog in its research. It gives us answers to many questions about the whales and their migrations in the North Atlantic. By comparing the catalog with catalogs from other places in the North Atlantic, we learn more about where the whales are staying, and whether they change their migrations over time. It also allows us to get to know the individual whales that we see in Greenland better. The pictures in the catalog are collected by local citizens, tourists and whale-watching operators as well as by researchers from the Greenland Institute of Nature.

We need your help! If you have pictures of the tail pattern on humpback whales seen in Greenland, the Institute is always interested in including them in the catalog. You can choose to send them in an email with information about where and when the picture was taken, directly to us at