is a large, adult male humpback whale. His first recorded
sighting at Stellwagen Bank was in 1981. He has returned
to this area almost every year since.
There is no current family history for Cygnus because when
he was first seen he was already on his own. With no mother
that we can trace to by the traditional way of photographing mother
and calf, we must wait for further DNA analysis.
was named for his unusual dorsal fin. The curved dorsal
reminded the namers of a swan. "Cygnus" is Latin
for "swan." Examining his fluke more closely revels
a second meaning to his name. A cross or x which is seen
in the middle of the right fluke near the trailing edge also resembles Cygnus
the Swan, a northern constellation seen best in the summer skies.
It is sometimes also called the Northern Cross. There
are many myths and legends associated with this constellation.
One of which named Cygnus as the son of Poseidon, God of
the oceans and brother to Zeus. Cygnus was strangled by
Achilles during the Trojan war. Saddened by the loss of
his son, Poseidon turned him into a swan and placed him in the
has a great and unique fluke for identifying. This is a
good one for beginners. Another striking feature of Cygnus
is his dorsal. Instead of standing erect like most dorsal
fins, his curves over to the right side. This was probably
due to an injury sustained during intense breeding battles. Adult,
male humpback whales will often engage in fierce breeding battles
to win the privilege to breed with a female. Often resulting
in nonfatal injuries and scars.