Photographic Identification No. 2: Residence Time & Migrations

Photographic Identification: Residence time in Laguna San Ignacio & Migrations

(Photo-ID) is one of the most powerful and useful tools we use to document, research and understand gray whales that visit Laguna San Ignacio each winter. Fortunately, gray whales have distinctive marking on their skin that change little over time.

The number of days between the first and last photographic re-captures of whales within a winter provides an estimate of the minimum amount of time each whale stayed in the lagoon during that winter.

If photographs of gray whales from other portions of their geographic range are compared we can learn about the whale’s movements within the range. For example, in recent years photographs of gray whales taken during the summer in the western North Pacific off the coast of Russia were matched with gray whales in Baja California during the winter.

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