TALON #0305 born 1981

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Talon... #0305 in the Humpback whale catalogue. She was first sighted with her mother in 1981 so they know the year of her birth (she was 6 when we first encountered her in 1986). Her mother was Sinestra #0102 in the catalogue and she was first seen in 1976.

When she was a calf, Talon was a favorite of a many whale watch boats. She was known to come close to the boats and interact... breaching, flipper slapping, spy hopping. It would seem that her mother was comfortable with the boats as well, not trying to draw Talon away from them. Some boat captains and naturalists have a theory that certain mothers even recognize their boat, most likely by the sound of their engines, and intentional bring their calves over. The mother then goes off to feed and the calf is entertained by the exuberant passengers! The mother can find her calf again by honing in on the engine sound. Who knows.... it is a wonderful thought that maybe whale watching serves some purpose for the whales too?

I was told by people who saw Talon as a calf that she was small (around 12'). Her mother was often seen breaching and landing on her belly when she was pregnant with Talon. Maybe Talon's size was not enhanced by being a shock absorber? She looked normal when we saw her, so she made up for lost time through her childhood. I was also told that she was known for her sociability with other whales, often seen with other well known individuals and for some quirky behavior. In 1984 she formed an attachment to a large buoy and was found there day after day by the whale watch boats.

Talon's flukes were a pretty generic black, making it difficult to distinguish her from the hundreds of other humpbacks with plain black flukes, but she had a very very useful secondary marking:
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It was totally unique, the source of her name (reminding the naming party of a talon zipper) and a part of her body that was almost always visible when she was at the surface. Usually you would have to wait for a humpback to do a deep dive before you could see their flippers and identify them. The easy visibility of this mark had further implications... when humpbacks migrate to banks north of the Dominican Republic, the banks are so shallow that they rarely bring up their flukes and so often they can't be identified. Because the mark on her dorsal was visible whenever she surfaced, Talon's presence on the banks was recorded often: in January of 1982 (probably returning with her mother), in March of 1984, and in January of 1985 in a rowdy group. I wonder if she was just flirting, perhaps "practicing" the mating ritual, since female humpbacks don't reach sexual maturity until their around their sixth year.

I am continuing to use this blog as a first draft..... once I have finished my chapter on Talon I will turn it around into book form and post it in my second draft whaleblog.

Fissure's story is already there. I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think.