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Umbra the whale returns to Bermuda’s waters

Spotting Bermuda’s first fluke-identified humpback whale of the season has been hailed as a victory for “citizen science” by whale-watcher Andrew Stevenson.

The humpback female, known as Umbra, is catalogued as number 1001. Whale enthusiasts identify the animals by the patterning on their flukes — the distinctive tails, unique to each animal, often flourished above water level.

Mr Stevenson said he’d spotted Umbra on Wednesday around the Challenger Bank. Several have already been sighted this year, but Umbra is the first known by name.

“What’s interesting here is that we’ve got a whole network of people in Bermuda who are like birders or trainspotters when it comes to whales,” he said.

“I posted the pictures on Facebook, and she was ID’d within hours by four or five whale spotters.”

This year marks the first that Mr Stevenson’s Humpback Whale Foundation runs as a registered charity.

“I was jumping up and down with excitement,” Mr Stevenson recalled. “You would normally have to be on a ship out in the middle of the ocean to see these whales.”

He added: “The strange thing is this particular whale also goes to Brier Island up at the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where I also go every summer with my family. It’s like the whale is stalking me. And you know what, I wouldn’t put anything past them.”

The latest sighting marks the 674th whale that the group has photographed in Bermuda waters over the last seven seasons, and gives and indication of the real length of time that the animals spend near the Island — from late December right through to June.

Useful website: www.whalesbermuda.com.

Umbra is the first previously named whale to be sighted near Bermuda this year. The female humpback whale was spotted near Challenger Banks

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Published January 11, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm)

Umbra the whale returns to Bermuda’s waters

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