In 1996 we started the Banderas Bay Humpback Whale Photoidentification Project, known as the FIBB Catalog. Until 2017 season, the catalog has 2,686 different photoidentified individuals and a database of more than 7,800 records. We are still working on the 2018-2021 seasons.
Photoidentification is a technique used to identify one humpback whale from another. This is based on taking photographs of the ventral side of the caudal fin or tail, which presents a color pattern that can range from completely white to completely black, and which can also present scars, spots, and notches that all together make every adult individual unique.
Humpback whale photoidentification work is very important for the study and conservation of the species, through photoidentification it is possible to estimate population abundance, study their behavior, their migratory routes, birth rate and much more information, hence its importance.
The FIBB Catalog collects data and photographs from various collaborators who believe in the importance of sharing this information for the benefit of knowledge and protection of this wonderful species. If you want to check out our FIBB Catalog visit: www.whalephoto.org
Since all the various collaborators embark from different places witihin Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta de Mita) at least 60% of the Bay´s extension is sampled daily, with a minimum effort of 12 sailing hours, this during each whale watching season (December 8 to March 23).
In 2020, thanks to the support of Biomar Foundation, we started the Humpback Whale Monitoring Project in order to register any significant variation in their distribution, temporality and/or abundance in Banderas Bay. We are sampling the central and south areas of the Bay during the months of November and April, areas and months usually not studied; besides the regular whale watching months and areas. This information, among other things, will enable us, if necessary, to suggest to the corresponding authorities about changes in the whale watching dates, as well as precautionary measures for the protection of this species.
We would like to thank all the people and institutions that have supported us in these projects, especially all the social service, internship, and thesis students along with the numerous volunteers who have participated.