Guests on Monday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise got to see 8 different Humpbacks. Though most of us saw 2 breaches from whales that were fairly far from us, all of us got to see a couple of other two-somes fairly close-by.
The first pod of 2 we encountered were both adult Humpbacks. They spent a considerable amount of time very close to each other. Of course we couldn’t be sure if we were looking at 2 males hanging out together or a male and a female, but we didn’t notice any aggressive maneuvers between these two, so whoever they were, they seemed to be friends (see today’s Fact of the Day and the photo for more info on Humpback gender identification).
Our second pod of 2 was Momma Humpback and her little calf. We saw their spouts towards the end of our trip and headed over to see what they were up to. Both of them seemed to be in a resting mode, and as usual, we got to see baby much more frequently than Mom. While we were watching them, we deployed our hydrophone, and once again, got to eavesdrop on some very loud (therefore close-by) Humpback conversations.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Why couldn’t we figure out the gender of the whales we were watching today? It turns out that unless there’s a calf around, it’s pretty much impossible to identify the gender of a Humpback from our vantage point on the boat. If there is a calf, the whale closest to the baby is usually “Mom”, and any other whales joining the pod are males. So how do researchers figure it out? If you’re underneath the whale…or if the whale rolls over close to your boat and you know exactly what you’re looking for, you may be able to distinguish between the genders. A female Humpback’s genital slit is almost adjacent to her anus, separated only by a small lump called a “Hemispherical Lobe”. She also has two visible mammary grooves located on either side of her genital opening. A male Humpback’s genital slit on the other hand, is about midway between his umbilicus and anus (so, they’re much further apart than a female’s), and he lacks that “hemispherical lobe”.