On our way to investigate a couple of big spouts we saw out to sea during Tuesday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise, we came across a Humpback calf. Of course when we see a baby, we know Momma is there too, and we definitely weren’t disappointed when she surfaced. And when their escort surfaced…well, suffice it to say, we were really happy. While we were watching this trio, another calf surfaced at our 12:00. This baby was also accompanied by Mom, and his Mom was accompanied by an Escort. While we were watching all 6 of these whales, we took the opportunity to deploy the hydrophone and eavesdropped on the sounds that the whales we were watching were listening to.
Our closest encounter occurred when our 12:00 Escort surfaced about 30 feet off our bow, followed by Mom and Baby. The next time we saw them, they were about 50 feet away, and the time after that, they were even further from us. But since at that point we were running out of time, we left them behind and headed back to the harbor.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: In 2014, researchers published results of a study identifying the core bacterial communities living on Humpbacks’ skin regardless of which ocean the whales inhabit. Though they aren’t sure exactly how these bacteria interact with the whales, it is possible that the bacteria may be the reason the skins of the whales don’t get overwhelmed with organisms (the way boat hulls do). Also, by identifying the bacteria living on healthy whales, the researchers may have a new way to identify stressed and less healthy whales (by comparing the types of bacterial colonies from skin samples). In case you’re curious, the bacteria are Tenacibaculum and Psychrobacter.