Kayak surfer

by Jenna Van Valen via GoFundMe


Jenna Van Valen caught a great picture of a whale's fluke (the underside of the tail) while on a tour in Hawaii this January. She was told to send the photo to an organization which cataloged these photos to track the whales since a fluke is unique like a fingerprint.

It turns out this whale had never been photographed before and for a $1,000 donation Jenna could name the whale. She started a GoFundMe to raise the money so she could adopt the whale for her birthday.

Jenna's fundraiser hit its goal and she sent a donation to Whales of Guerrero to promote conservation and whale protection. She also sent in her name for the whale ... "Van Whalen!"

Jenna's GoFundMe page:

"On Saturday, January 23rd 2021, while on a whale watch out of Kailua-Kona (Hawaii), I photographed a humpback whale and baby for quite some time. After returning home, I submitted some of the photos of her "fluke" (the underside of her tail) to a website called Happy Whale, per recommendation of the tour boat operator. Like fingerprints, flukes are unique and allow these magnificent ocean creatures to be identified and followed as they journey through the ocean.

Van Whalen's tail
Van Whalen's tail, never photographed before. Courtesy GoFundMe

"I was excited to participate, and couldn't wait to hear "who" we'd spotted that day. I browsed other sightings nearby, and couldn't make a match myself, but didn't think too much about that. I received an email the other evening that the whale I'd spotted is a "new" whale - as in not named and tracked previously. I learned for a suggested minimum donation of five hundred to one thousand I can "name" the whale and track her as she's sighted in the future.

"What started out as sort of a joke turned into an actual plan: I would ask, for my 42nd birthday, for donations. Once I hit $1000 (or more) I would make one large donation to Whales of Guerrero and name "my" whale. 42 is the answer to everything, after all, and what better to do with my birthday than raise funds for animal conservation? I know, I know, I usually raise money for a local animal shelter, but I thought I'd give this a try.

"***If I do not raise $1000 I will refund all donations.*** I am starting it off with $200 of my own towards this goal.

"So please, support me, support wildlife, and let's name this mama whale VAN WHALEN, because it's frigging hilarious. Happy birthday to me!

"May 29, 2021 by Jenna Van Valen, Organizer
Ohmygoodness! Thank you all so much - I have just donated $1000 to Whales of Guerrero via HappyWhale - what a gift to wildlife conservation you helped me make!

Van WhalenVan Whalen, photographed by Jenna Van Valen, courtesy GoFundMe