Guests on Monday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise saw more than 8 different Humpbacks. Some of these sightings were glimpses of spouts, dorsal fins and peduncles from Humpbacks a few miles away, but most of the time was spent watching a pod of 4 big (40′ – 45′) Humpbacks who were choosing to travel together.
These 4 didn’t perform any really competitive behaviors on the surface, but they were definitely up and down a lot while we watched, so we figured there might have been some posturing going on where we couldn’t see it. Lots of quick dives indicates the whales were “out of breath” and working hard below the surface — maybe 4 males just trying to keep up with each other, or maybe there was one female in the group trying to evade the others. We all got some great views of these 4 when they chose to surface just 50 yards from us a few different times…but as close as they got to us, we were never able to determine gender (for more on that, see today’s Fact of the Day).
We sure saw a lot this morning — it’s like someone opened the floodgates, and all the Humpbacks have come out of hiding.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: How can you determine a humpback’s gender? Unless you’re directly underneath the whale, it’s almost impossible to tell (and even then it’s very difficult). Male genitals are internalized and so are females’ mammary glands, but females do have noticeable mammary grooves in their pelvic areas and a lump called a “hemispheric lobe” near their genital slits. From the surface, whale watchers can assume that the whale closest to a calf is a female. Generally the whale joining a cow and calf (called the “tender” or “escort”) is a male. Also, it is generally assumed that a competitive pod is made up of one female who leads (or is chased by) a group of males.
Coming Out of Hiding