We operated a couple of cruises over the weekend, so here are just a few highlights.
- On Friday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise we spent time with a pod of 3 big adult Humpbacks (presumably a female and 2 potential “boyfriends”). They were all fairly calm, but surfaced and dove almost simultaneously giving us some great views of their dorsal fins and some great “spout-views” too. Later in the cruise, we were approached by a curious 25 foot sub-adult. This whale surfaced about 100 feet from us and spent a good 5 minutes swimming right next to the boat, checking us out as we checked him out. In between sightings, we eavesdropped on some very loud Humpbacks!
- On Saturday’s Mid-Morning Cruise we watched a competitive pod form when 3 distinct pods of Humpbacks joined up. Havoc ensued when all these whales got together — we saw 2 full breaches, lots of head lunges, and lots of other surface commotion as these whales twisted and dove around each other. One of them even surfaced about 100 feet from us and lunged several times (it appeared that he was looking at us, though we could have been just a peripheral thought in his peripheral vision). When we could tear our eyes away from all this close-by action, we saw lots of other spouts from other pods of whales further away.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: One of the questions we get asked most frequently after listening to Humpbacks singing is, “Why do they do that”? Though we don’t know for sure, recently published research conducted by Dr. Eduardo Mercado notes that though Humpbacks in a particular area are basically singing the same song themes, there’s a lot of variation within the themes, and when an individual repeats his song, his subsequent songs vary quite a bit from his earlier versions. It appears that each Humpback seems to be altering his song to fit his own criteria, and Dr. Mercado compared these alterations to the ways a terrestrial mammal will focus his eyes on various objects while scanning his visual field. Dr Mercado posits that since Humpbacks have to rely more on sound than on vision to learn about their worlds, the reason they sing different notes and vary their song themes is that the acoustic features of their songs allow them to find and track other Humpbacks from long distances through echolocation. Want to learn more? Click here for an well-explained synopsis of Dr. Mercado’s research paper.