SPOTTING THE HUMPBACK WHALE
The Humpback Whale typically migrates up to 25,000 km each year, with the ones who visit Niue travelling up from Antartica, and on to Tonga for mating. The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head.
Oma Tafua works to understand the Humpback whale that passes through Niue waters from August to November each year. A team of volunteers work to help in the annual collection of photo ID, genetic sampling, acoustics (collecting songs sung by male Humpback whales), and sending this data off for analysis by expert scientists. From this information we are able to help in the long term conservation of the Endangered Oceania Humpback whales and other marine mammal species.
Every whale tail is like a unique fingerprint, with it's own individual markings that it acquires throughout it's life. Photos of the underside of the tail, along with photos of the dorsal fin, can be used to identify each whale.
Every time a whale flukes (shows it's tail before it dives) or breaches (jumps out of the water), flecks of skin fall off like dandruff. This can be carefully collected and DNA sampled from it.
Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time. These songs are distinctive to each whale and can be heard underwater many kilometers away.
Oma Tafuā also records sightings of other marine life as a representation of the greater ecosystem's health.
The spinner dolphin is common around the waters of Niue. Travelling in pods, it is famous for its acrobatic displays in which it spins as it leaps through the air.
These dolphins may also make nose-outs, tail slaps, flips, head slaps, "salmon leaps", and side and back slaps.