Guests on Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise got to know a Mom Humpback and her calf. We found these two whales offshore of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and once we arrived in their area, they stuck around with us for the rest of the cruise.
They surfaced close enough to our idling boat that after they spouted (exhaled), we could clearly hear their inhalations. We were also at the correct angle to actually see the atomized aerosol spray coming from each blowhole (a lot of the time, their spouts just look like a triangular shaped plume). Every time Mom sounded, she lifted her flukes high into the air, which was a bit unusual as that’s the posture Humpbacks take when they’re beginning long, deep dives, and Mom certainly wasn’t diving deeply.
While we were watching this duo, we deployed the hydrophone, and we were able to listen to the whales’ songs long enough that we could actually recognize when the whales changed their phrases to begin new parts of their songs (see the image above for a graphic example of Humpback song phrasing).
Eventually, we ran out of time and had to leave our singers and our Mom and calf to head back to the harbor. But as the old saying goes, “it’s not over ’til it’s over”…we got to see one more lone Humpback spout 4 times and sound before we got back to the dock.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Since Doctors Katy and Roger Payne and their associates first analyzed their recordings of the Humpback song in 1967, we’ve learned that not only does every singer in a population sing basically the same song, but that the song continually evolves. The Humpback song is very organized, and consists of notes, phrases, and themes (except for the Arabian Humpbacks who don’t include the themes). No one knows the true purpose for the song, but since every population of Humpbacks sings their own song, and since they mainly sing during mating season, the song may play a role in social organization.