The tail is the key!

Humpback Research Project: the importance of knowing our Whales!

Humpback whale are identified as individuals by the underside of their flukes, or tails. The distinct coloration, shape, and scarring pattern of the fluke’s underside are as unique as a human fingerprint, allowing scientist to distinguish individuals using the pictures they have taken of their flukes.

CaboTrek has a photo-identification project in Cabo San Lucas. Every hour spent at sea with whales translates into several of hours of work analyzing data. Photos are carefully analyzed, compared to those of several individuals and finally matched according to a series of rigorous criteria: As a part of your experience on our tours, you will learn how to identify whales as individuals. We give each whale we spot an ID – CTHW (for Cabo Trek Humpback Whale) along with their respective number.  Some of those whales are known to us and have a nickname in addition to their ID number.

So why is such research so important? Well the reasons are multiple:

  • It contributes to a better understanding of the distribution, abundance and dynamics of the Humpback Whales that migrate through the Baja California Sur region.
  • It raises awareness about responsible whale watching and ecotourism practices.
  • It will help educate the local community of boat operators, tour guides, residents and tourists about the local marine fauna
  • with the intent of promoting lasting changes toward preserving and conserving a healthy marine ecology.

Not only, we will keep a record of other marine mammals in the area including: dolphins and other species of whales such as the Gray, Blue, Fin, Pilot, Sperm, Bryde’s and Killer whales.

Fluke identification photos will primarily help us building a data base of individual Humpback Whales visiting the Cabo San Lucas area and in further instance seeking collaboration with other organizations in Mexico as well as in the U.S. To improve larger existing fluke identification catalogs.

Data collected will:

  • Help the region to become acknowledged as a mariner mammal site, which will increase further resources to study and protect the whales,
  • Identify potentially sensitive regions for Humpback Whales,
  • Contribute to the scientific community’s understanding of the Northeastern Pacific Humpback Whale population.
  • Improve larger existing fluke identification catalogs in the North Pacific, we share our pictures with Ted Cheeseman from Happywhale (  You can check all our whales sighted and their stories clicking “Record Trip” here.

It is our intention to raise awareness regarding best whale watching practices and to contribute to understanding of the dynamics of the Northeastern Pacific humpback whale population in order to improve the conservation plan for humpback whales and the ocean.  As a Cabo Trek guest you are helping with our research project.

Our catalogue, at the moment, has 657 individual whales collected over the past 4 seasons.

WCA partner
Planet Whale and Cabo Trek
Whale Watching Season 2019-2020


  • BREE-801: This whale from Alaska is known from the long term research efforts of the Marine Advisory Program (MAP) based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) first seen in 2009. This season Cabo Trek sighted it twice! Once on January 30th and the last time on March 11th



  • CTHW#329: This whale has been known in Mexican waters since 1996 by the FIBB catalog, but in California, its feeding zone, it has been known since 1985. She survived a killer whale attack, which is why she is missing 3/4 of her left lobe and has serrated marks on the right lobe of her tail. She was seen by Cabo Trek in 2017 2018 and 2019. It was also seen in Cabo this season (2020). It is over 35 years old and apparently is a male.




  • HW-MN0501145: Believed to be female from observation with 2016-2017 calf. I was seen by Cabo Trek in 2019 and 2020. I was sighted for the first time in California in 2018.




  • GWAK-P124: This whale was sighted for the first time in Mexico´s Revillagigedo Archipelago in 2005 by PRIMMA/UABCS. The Gulf Watch Alaska sighted it in 2008 in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This season Cabo Trek sighted GWAK-P124 in Los Cabos. This whale is a female that was spotted with its calf.


  • CTHW#204: Gnarly is a well known whale in the Salish Sea, between Washington state and British Columbia. Its gendre still unkown but it has been sighted on Cabo on 2016, and 2020. Other sightings in México have been reported on Nayarit, Jalisco and Guerrero. Last sight on Cabo, Quinn was observed on an “Escort” behavior among another individual and her calf.




  • CRC-16151: Named Hopper because he or she spy hops a lot. It has been sighted 81 times between California – Los Cabos – Puerto Vallarta since 2014. Cabo trek sighted Hopper in 2019 and 2020. Most sightings were in Monterey Bay (76 times). This whale is known from research conducted by Cascadia Research Collective and collaborators.

And here some extra statistics of the last season:

Whale Watching Season 2018-2019


  • CTHW#598: This whale was sighted for the first time in 2013 in San José del Cabo by PRIMMA/UABCS, the second time in 2014 in Puerto Vallarta by ECOBAC, and than Cabo Trek in 2017 sighted it and this year we got a resighting! Over the years, Photo-identification has provided important information about population structure, demographic parameters, site fidelity and occupancy, and migration.



  • CTHW#646: Gem (TMMC) from California is known since 1999. This whale was sighted for the first time in Los Cabos in 2017 by Cabo Trek escorting a mother and her calf. She has also been sighted in Puerto Vallarta.





  • CTHW#607: CRC-12525 has been sighted since 2012 in Mexican waters. I was sighted in Guerrero Negro on January 25th,2017 and in Los Cabos on March 16th,2017 by Cabo Trek. This whale is from California and It is known from the long term research efforts of the PRIMMA/UABCS.




  • CTHW#911: CRC-16004 is from British Columbia, Canada and has been sighted since 2010. Cabo Trek got the first sighting of this whale in 2018. It was also sighted in Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.



  • CTHW#1271: CRC-11705 is from California and was sighted for the first time in 2009. In Mexico this whale was sighted only in Los Cabos. The first sighting in Mexican waters was in 2017 by Cabo Trek.



  • CTHW#652: CRC-12399 also Known as Popcorn’s mom has been sighted since 2010. It is from California and Cabo trek sighted it in 2017. It was the only time this whale was sighted in Mexico. UPDATE: This whale was sighted with her calf (Popcorn) in 2020 in California.


And here some extra statistics of the last season:

Whale Watching Season 2017-2018



  • CTHW#315 is still our oldest whale with Happywhale considering both breeding and feeding grounds.



  • CTHW#329 this whale is the oldest if we take in consideration only the breeding ground. Match with the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur.




  • CTHW#496 up to date this whale is still the one that travels the most.



  • CTHW#519 no updates to report.


  • CTHW#536 no updates to report.


And here some extra statistics of the last season:


Whale Watching Season 2016-2017



  • CTHW#315 is our oldest whale. It was sighted for the first time in July 1990 in the Gulf of the Farallones, California and in January 2017 was re-sighted in Cabo San Lucas.



  • CTHW#329 is a whale that survived an orca attack that carried away most of his or her left fluke. This whale was sighted for the first in November 1993 in the Gulf of the Farallones, California; it was sighted twice in 2009 in Santa Barbara Channel, California; it was sighted twice in 2015 in Monterey Bay, California; in 2016 was sighted once both in Monterey Bay and Moss Landing, California; and in January 2017 was sighted in Cabo San Lucas.




  • CTHW#496, also known as Krusty, is our furthest match. It was sighted once in September 2011 in Kodiak Island, Alaska and in February 2017 in Cabo San Lucas.




  • CTHW#519 is our whale that was re-sighted more times. This whale was seen for the first time in August 2009; in 2010, it was sighted six times; in 2011 three times; and in 2012 nine times, always in Santa Barbara Channel, California or nearby this area. In February 2017 was the first sighting for in its breeding ground.


  • CTHW#536 was sighted for the first time in August 2009 in the Gulf of the Farallones, California. In May 2012, this whale was part of a killer whale/ gray whale calf predation. A pod of orca was trying to predate a calf gray whale and few humpback whales were sighted in the same are trying to help the mother and calf gray whale. One of the humpback whales sighted this way was also sighted in Cabo San Lucas in March 2017.


And here some extra statistics of the last season:


Humpback Whales Sigthed


Identified Humpback Whales


Sighted Gray Whales


To finalize the whale watching season 2016/207 we make available this document released the by Ted Cheesmann from the HappyWhale organization about their research results. This document is available to download or viewing online:

 2017 Happywhale for IWC

Note: All graphics shown on this website are in continuous evolution as data is slowly processed, therefore these are intended to get a general idea but are not accurate and not intended to be used for scientific papers or used as reference for other scientific research. The graphs are based on the datas collected by Cabo Trek and shows the status of the end of each Whale Watching season in Cabo San Lucas (Dec-Apr). For more detailed information contact us at:

Want to make the difference?

Booking a CABO TREK Whale Watching tour and you will help us getting out there and collect more data. During the booking process as a discounted add-on you can purchase our white colored “Save The Whales” T-shirts. The T-shirt will be giving to you either before or after the tour and we have all sizes available from S till XXL man and S till L women size. 

Year after year while collecting more and more data about the whales that visit Baja California Sur our whale watching tours become increasingly interesting as our Marine Biologist Guides on Board will share an unmatched great deal of interesting facts that make our tour very special!



Have you ever thought about adopting a whale? Well, you will not be able to take it home obviously, but you will receive a nice card with a picture of the fluke telling you interesting facts about the life of the whale you choose, and you will be updated when new sighting will occur in the future. You can choose between the “SILVER”, “GOLD” and the “PLATINUM” (*) package, the differences are explained in the boxes below. 



  • Adoption certificate
  • Interesting facts and figures about humpback whales
  • Map of the migratory path of the humpback whale you’ve adopted



GOLD PACKAGE includes:


  • Adoption certificate
  • Interesting facts and figures about humpback whales
  • Map of the migratory path of the humpback whale you’ve adopted
  • Updates about the whale you have adopted




  • Adoption certificate
  • Interesting facts and figures about humpback whales
  • Map of the migratory path of the humpback whale you’ve adopted
  • Updates about the whale you have adopted
  • Tour pictures* 
  • Cabo Trek sticker *
  • Cabo Trek Research T-Shirt*

Note: *PLATINUM Package only available for guests who actually visit Cabo and join a Cabo Trek Whale Watching Tour which can be purchased as an add-on with a 20% discount when adopting a whale PLATINUM Package.

*Note: the PLATINUM package is only available for guest who actually visit our shop in Cabo San Lucas. If you’re not coming to Mexico you still can adopt a whale but please choose the “SILVER or GOLD” package as shipping out of Mexico is not easy.