A group of whale watchers is delighted to see a pod of humpback whales surface in Lynn Canal. Humpback whales can be identified as individual animals based on the marks and patterns on the whales' tail flukes. A large photo database exists, and researchers are able to document the movements and life histories of whales.
In Mid-July 2015, a humpback whale that was first identified in 1972 in Lynn Canal was resighted near Petersburg in Frederick sound. The 44-year span between the two sightings in Southeast Alaska marks the longest re-sighting span of a humpback whale in the world.
Pioneering whale researcher Chuck Jurasz of Juneau first documented the whale in 1972. The whale was subsequently re-sighted by researchers with the University of Hawaii in 1990 and in 2006, first escorting a mother and calf and later defending its position near a lone female from other competing males, indicating that this is a male humpback.
The second longest re-sighting is a male humpback first documented as a calf in 1974, and frequently re-sighted over a 42-year span, often in Glacier Bay. Although these more-than-40-year-re-sightings are among the longest in the world, humpbacks are known to live much longer. Most appear to live into their 60s, and the oldest known humpback whale was 96 years old.