Years of the North Atlantic Humpback (YoNAH)

Years of the North Atlantic Humpback (YoNAH) is a unique research project utilizing photo-identification techniques and molecular genetics to conduct an intensive survey of humpack whales throughout their entire known North Atlantic range. This collaborative project involves scientists from seven nations.

YoNAH field work began in January 1992 with a large-scale study of humpbacks in their principal West Indies breeding range at Silver Bank, Navidad Bank, Mouchoir Bank and Samana Bay, Dominican Republic; and Mon Passage, Puerto Rico. The next summer, the sampling continued in all the known North Atlantic feeding grounds: the Gulf of Maine, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and Labrador, southwestern Greenland, Iceland, and Norway. In 1993 the same schedule of field work was repeated.p>

Various research groups are responsible for different analyses. Allied Whale is responsible for photographic analysis and database management. All the 5,500 photographs have been matched against each other, and the accompanying databases are receiving final corrections and revisions. YoNAH is the broadest-ranging, most intensive study ever undertaken of a marine mammal species. YoNAH's vast database will support a wide range of scientific investigations and will also provide reliable, detailed information on which to base management policy. Archives of photographs, tissue samples and data will provide a valuable legacy for future research.

Click here to see Nature's publication of YoNAH research.