Oseana, the female humpback whale that captured hearts worldwide when news of her long-distance journey came out this fall, has been added to Allied Whale’s Adopt a Whale conservation fundraising program.

The marine mammal research group at College of the Atlantic, Allied Whale, is offering Oseana as one of many whales available in its Adopt a Whale program as a last-minute gift idea for those interested in helping support conservation of the ocean and the whales that live there.

Oseana broke all non-human mammal travel records when she journeyed from the coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic Ocean to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean — a trip of at least 6,000 miles. Her name, Oseana, means ocean in Malagasy, the principal language of Madagascar.

The connection between the two distant sightings of this wandering female was made possible thanks in part to pioneering work in the 1970s by Allied Whale researchers and students at College of the Atlantic, who proved that humpback whales have distinctive identifying tail markings.

Like human fingerprints, these markings are specific to individual animals. This discovery has enabled scientists to follow individual whales with cameras and telephoto lenses. Humpback whales were hunted to near extinction before hunting was outlawed in the 1960s and southern hemisphere humpbacks like Oseana were particularly devastated.

Discovering how whales move between regions helps scientists understand the way in which their populations are responding to the end of hunting and to ongoing human impacts such as ship strikes or fishing gear entanglements.

For a sponsoring donation, Allied Whale researchers offer an adoption packet that includes photographs of Oseana taken in Brazil and Madagascar, information about the science behind the historic discovery, a waterproof guide to whales, and a bumper sticker. Other whales, both humpbacks and fin whales, are also available for adoption.

For more information about Allied Whale and the Adopt a Whale program, visit alliedwhale.org or call 244-7429.