Become a citizen scientist and help with Humpback Whale research!

Would you like to be involved in marine conservation projects but you don’t have a university degree?

In today’s technologically advanced world, the opportunities to make a meaningful impact on our planet have expanded far beyond the confines of traditional scientific roles. You no longer need a lab coat or a degree in marine biology to contribute to the health of our oceans and the creatures that call them home.

Gone are the days when scientific research was solely reserved for experts in the field. Now, everyday individuals can play a vital role in advancing our understanding of marine ecosystems.

How you can contribute to Humpback Whale research and conservation

Photo of the flukes of a Humpback Whale in Tasmania which can be uploaded to the online database Happywhale.

Travel to your favourite coastal destinations along the Humpback Highway, armed not with a microscope or a notepad, but with a camera. That’s all you need to contribute to Humpback Whale research through platforms like Happywhale – a website that serves as a global database, pooling together fluke identification photos submitted by citizen scientists just like you from around the world.

The concept is simple yet powerful: by capturing photos of Humpback Whale flukes (the underside of their tails), which bear unique identifiers akin to fingerprints, you can help scientists track individual whales and monitor their migrations and behaviours. Every fluke photo you capture adds another piece to the puzzle of Humpback Whale conservation.

Help us expand our Tasmanian Whale dataset

In 2020, we started logging our Humpback Whale sightings through the Happywhale database. Every time we spotted a Humpback Whale on our trips that showed its flukes and we were able to take a high resolution photograph, we uploaded it to the website. It can be a lot of fun, when the algorithm shows you that it’s a ‘new’ animal to the database or when the whale has been sighted previously. The website gives you some interesting information including the year and location where it showed up previously.

As a tourist and passenger on a wildlife watching tour, you can do the same: Simply sign up on the Happywhale website and start uploading your fluke images. Ideally, you will upload the location/coordinates and time of the whale sighting along with your photos. If you are not sure about the location, just ask your skipper or crew onboard the vessel and they will be able to give you the coordinates from their onboard GPS.

If you are just curious to see where Humpback Whales have been sighted recently, you can search the website for certain locations or organisations that are contributing to the database. Below is a screenshot of the Wild Ocean Tasmania Whale sightings on the Happywhale website. Our tour covers the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula which is considered a hotspot for marine mammal sightings in Tasmania.

Screenshot of whale sightings along the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula on the Happywhale database.

When is the best time of year to see Humpback Whales in Tasmania you ask?

The time we start seeing whales along our coastline varies from season to season. After all, we are dealing with wild animals. Their migration patterns are influenced by a number of factors including the water temperatures, food availability, reproductive cycles, weather patterns and ocean currents. As a rule of thumb, a good time to see Humpback Whales in Tasmanian waters is between the months of June and July and October and November. Sometimes we see whales migrate past our shores much earlier and sometimes they extend their migration into December and even early January. If you’d like to spot a Whale, you need three things: a bit of luck, a positive spirit and patience.

Book your tour through our online booking system!

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And keep an eye out when you travel along the coast, you might even spot a blow from your car window!

Tasmania has some fantastic lookout platforms as well. On the Tasman Peninsula, we recommend checking out the Blowhole lookout, Tasman Arch and Remarkable Caves. If you enjoy a walk in the National Park, you will get rewarded with a mesmerising view at Waterfall Bluff, Cape Hauy and Cape Raoul.

Learn more about Humpback Whale research through the Tasmanian Fluke Project.