Part of the
Hurtigruten Group


Happywhale, a global Citizen Science project, was established in 2015 to record whale sightings and build a better understanding of these magnificent creatures.

Tracking the world's most travelled animal

After many years of leading expeditions to Antarctica and South Georgia, Happywhale co-founder Ted Cheeseman noticed the impact 20th-century commercial whaling had on local populations. Between 1994 and 2020, Ted saw no large whales and dolphins around South Georgia, the former center of commercial whaling in the South Atlantic. During 2011, Ted noticed a shift with more sightings and stories of these magnificent animals around South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Following this rebirth of these beloved animals, Ted along with Ken Southerland co-founded Happywhale.

Now a global organisation, Happywhale aims to grow and develop our understanding of whales and dolphins, whilst supporting ongoing efforts to protect global populations. Their focus is simply to make it easy and accessible for all to become Citizen Scientists and get involved through an engaging and innovative platform.

Using images submitted by thousands of Citizen Scientists around the world, Happywhale uses image recognition software to match these images against previous encounters with the same animal. Through a carefully created algorithm looking at the shape, pattern, and features in an individual Humpback whale's tail the platform builds a profile of each individual and how it travels around the world. These profiles are readily available on their website for scientists, animal lovers, and enthusiasts to view and build a love for these sea giants.

Through HappyWhale platform, we have been able to identify the Humpback Whale above as HW-MN1302143

Hurtigruten Expeditions & Happywhale

212 Voyages

From the high Arctic to the extreme south of Antarctica and everywhere in between - guests on board our ships are able to spot marine wildlife as they migrate and roam the world over.

988 Encounters

Guests on board have been busy spotting a wide variety of marine wildlife those on our Antarctica sailings have been the most successful with over 560 encounters recorded.

504 Individuals

One of the most spotted species is the Humpback Whale which makes up over 75% of all individuals sighted. But our guests have also recorded sightings of 35 other species of marine life whilst on board.

Get involved with Happywhale

Key Stats

Individuals encountered | 87,572

Furthest distance travelled | 11,261km

Longest time between sightings | 43 Years

Recorded sightings | 208,500

Most encountered species | humpback whales (238,883)

*Correct as of March'23

Meet Flame

Flame (Juneau), a female Humpback whale is currently the most sighted whale across Happywhale. First spotted in July 2004, Flame has since been spotted 356 more times between Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii. In the 18 years since she was first sighted in Alaska, she is known to have given birth to at least 6 calves, the most recent in 2022.

Learn more about Flame.

Not just Whales

Since starting in 2015, Happywhale has received thousands of images of whales in all four corners of the globe. But quickly they began to get images of a whole host of different marine life including dolphins, porpoises, and even seals. Knowing the importance of this data to scientists around the world, they adapted the platform to build profiles on a wide range of other marine wildlife.

Other stories

Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Sign up for our newsletter

Be the first to hear about our latest offers, exciting itineraries and inspirational articles.

Sign up here