Photo: Female with calf during migration
Challenges and Issues
As our work progresses, we notice certain issues and dilemmas that hinder our research.
Ideally, your help will allow us to overcome some of these problems. One major issue is getting good quality whale fluke pictures.
As we are a relatively small team conducting boat-based research, it is not always possible for us to get close enough to these animals to get a good quality picture of every individual in the area. We have identified and continue to identify many, but it is, of course, impossible for us to identify every specific whale.
A complete identification requires a clear photograph, meaning that we have to be close to the animal and not moving at high speeds in order to capture such an image. As we do not want to harass the whales, if one begins to swim away we will not chase in the boat but rather let it continue its journey peacefully. However, this means that we usually only get one opportunity to photograph the whales, and it is often at a distance from which it is too difficult to decipher the fluke markings. Also, taking an ideal picture of the fluke obviously requires that the whale raise its tail out of the water, and many whales pass through our research area without doing so. Further, we are not on our boat one hundred percent of the time and it is often difficult to identify the whales from land, unless they are swimming very close to shore. This means that for a perfect identification, we need to be out in the boat as the whale is passing by, we need to be able to get close to the whale without scaring it away, and we need the whale to raise its tail out of the water. Clearly, we cannot identify all the world’s whales in this manner. That is why we are relying, to some degree, on your help with identification photographs, as you will observe further along the page.
A second major dilemma in our work is funding. The process of equipping and supporting a research team, paying for boats, cameras, fuel, land, and all of the other necessities in whale identification, as well as almost any other form of research, can be costly. Although Mozwhales does have funding sources, further financial support and fund-raising is always an essential, if somewhat undesirable, part of scientific exploration. The work we are doing is non-profit work done for the benefit of the species and the environment as a whole rather than for money. ACCM is a non-profit organization attempting to better understand, and hence protect, a crucial species. We thus are always grateful for further support in the financial realm. If you are willing to help, please continue reading to find out how you can do so.