Humpback whales lost & found

The weather was not looking very good, the lookouts were not optimistic. The clients were hopeful and when the word came that a humpback whale had been seen in an area calm enough to get to, everyone sprang into action. Boats made their way to the North of Faial, only to find that the humpback whale had disappeared! The area was searched for a couple of hours, watching a few groups of small dolphins, before the magic word was heard on the radio, BLOWS!! The humpback whale had been found again. And there were 2 of them!! They were traveling to the SE, swimming just below the surface of the water, with common dolphins providing an escort. We could see the white of the pectoral fins “glowing” below the surface as we followed them. We were hoping for the whales to dive, showing their flukes. A fluke photo can be used to identify individuals, but it was looking like they were not going to cooperate. Finally, the one on the left, lifted its head out of the water with a strong blow, followed by a big arching of the back, but no fluke. Luckily, the second whale also gave a big blow, arched and lifted its flukes high enough over the waves to capture the all important ID photo. That was to be the only fluke of the encounter. On shore, the photo was entered into the Happywhale database, looking for a match. Surprise, surprise, there was a match!! This whale was seen almost 1 year ago to the day, on the opposite side of the island. On that day, it was part of a group of 4 -5 humpbacks, some of which circled our boat for over an hour.