HW-MN0440858 is a Humpback whale first encountered in the coastal channel of Moloka’i in January of 2005, and has since only been reported in Hawaiian waters of Maui.
Photographers who submit fluke patterns to Happy Whale have sighted this traveler ten times in the last 17 years. This leviathan sparked my curiosity during a chance field encounter in late February of 2022.
Glyph seems an illustrative title for a whale whose fluke is inscribed with strange runes and etchings; scars from quarrels with killer whale pods. Each incursion of markings is rake-like in parallel geometry, spaced by the cone shaped dentition of the whale’s natural nemesis.
The fluketips are masticated into stumps, suggesting this creature was overwhelmed by predators as a youngling, or perhaps she lingered as an adult amongst her aggressors to safeguard a vulnerable and more palatable calf.