Humpback whales have black and white markings beneath their tails, which are often exposed when the whales dive. They are arranged in a pattern unique to each individual, similar to a fingerprint. Patterns 1, 2, and 3 are predominant in Brazil.
Ventral Color Pattern Representations of the Tail of Humpback Whales
The PMBS scientists use the photo-identification technique to identify each whale, and this information is used to complement all of their project studies.
DNA sequencing is another technique used to identify individual whales. When instrumenting whales, PMBS researchers collect a small skin sample called a biopsy from the whales. This tissue is analyzed using modern molecular biology methods to sequence the DNA of the marked whale. This technique is also used to identify the sex of the animals.
Biopsy Sampling Using a Crossbow