Whoa…it was SO windy when we left the bay for Monday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise that we weren’t sure what we’d get to see. Since we knew we’d have to maneuver slowly, we were hoping that any Humpbacks in the area would be close by. But…it IS February, so we figured there would be plenty of whales to see and we were correct. We spent most of the cruise watching a pod of 4 Humpbacks — Momma, her little calf, and 2 wanna’ be “boyfriends” (aka “Escorts”). Momma did a good job of keeping her calf away from the 2 guys (how did we know these “extra” whales were male? See today’s Fact of the Day for more on that). There’s no evidence that a male Humpback will intentionally hurt another male’s calf, but these 2 guys were so busy fighting that an inadvertent injury could have occurred if Momma hadn’t been paying attention. We got to see the two males dive on top of each other, and watched them do a whole bunch of peduncle throws and pectoral slaps as they fought for dominance. It was too windy for us to deploy the hydrophone, but we were pretty distracted by the “whale fight” going on beside us, so we probably wouldn’t have been able to listen anyway.
After we dropped the folks off from this first cruise, we re-boarded and headed out again for our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise. Once again we encountered a competitive pod, and once again we got to watch 2 male Humpbacks fighting. The wind had calmed down by then, so we were able to deploy our hydrophone. This time, while we watched the competitors dive on top of each other and basically shove each other around, we also got to listen to many, many whale voices. When we glanced around, we saw spouts from other whales in every direction.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Researchers have observed that female Humpbacks don’t associate with each other at all while they’re in Hawaii. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that the females do associate with each other in Alaska — they’ll even feed cooperatively there. Since the females come here just to mate (and calve), we can postulate that female-female interaction must somehow get in the way of successful mating. Maybe groups of females would attract too many competitive males for safe mating to occur….what do you think?