Guests joining us on Tuesday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise got to see spouts and dorsal fins and even a few flukes from 5 different whales. It almost seemed to us like all the Humpback action was taking place underwater, because each time we deployed our hydrophone the songs and vocalizations we were hearing were very loud and very clear. We also got to hear a lot of what sounded like the high pitched chirping that tiny birds produce…it’s a new sound for us this year, and we’re surprised each time we hear it.
Our 10:00 Cruise from Kawaihae began with sightings of a competitive pod just outside of the harbor. We watched the whale in the lead (presumably the female) roll on her side and slap her pec flipper repetitively on the surface. Was she trying to entice the 4 males chasing her…or was she just making it more difficult for those guys to get to her? This pod of five stayed with us for most of the cruise, rarely diving for more than a minute or two. We got to see lots of head lunging, and bubble blowing, and heard lots of trumpeting as they all jockeyed for position. At one point two whales broke off from the pod (maybe the female and the winning escort?), but the other three continued acting pretty aggressively with each other at the surface. We finally had to leave this group, and as we headed back to the harbor we were greeted by a large and active pod of Spinner Dolphins.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: To our untrained ears, the sounds we hear from our hydrophones sound pretty random, though we have noticed the lack of certain phrases this year that we heard fairly often last year. According to a paper published in the journal Current Biology, it turns out that our ears aren’t so untrained after all. Researchers have documented that the Humpback songs in the South Pacific are actually changing really quickly. Over the last decade, completely new song themes are appearing within a season. The researchers compared the radical evolution of the Humpbacks’ songs to human musical composition, suggesting that the themes are so novel; it’s as if whole new human musical genres were appearing that no one had ever heard just a few years ago.