Each blue whale has a unique pattern of spots of its back, like a fingerprint or a nametag. These spots allow researchers to identify each whale as either a newcomer, or an old friend.
The Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) is a non-profit research organization located on the Gulf of St Lawrence's northern shore and they were the first group to begin long term study of marine mammals in the Gulf. Since their founding in 1979, this group has followed blue whale populations in eastern Canada, the Sea of Cortez and in the waters of Iceland.
MICS has discovered something troubling in the northwest Atlantic blue whale population. Of the 475 individual whales they've identified since their genesis in 1979, only 22 have been calves. This suggests a frighteningly low calving rate for a population already swimming on the brink.