We had a mixed bag of experiences watching whales the last few days. Working backwards…first of all, in order to give our hard-working crew a holiday, we didn’t run any Whale Watch Cruises on Sunday. On Saturday’s Mid-Morning Cruise we searched far and wide looking for spouts and splashes with little luck. When we deployed our hydrophone, we heard some loud and clear whale sounds so we know there were whales in the vicinity, but we only caught a glimpse of one whale the entire trip. And since this whale was about 1/2 a mile away from us, we called the trip a “FLUKE” and invited everyone aboard to join us again on another Whale Watch Cruise for FREE.
Now, on to the fun stuff. On Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise we got see 5 different Humpbacks. Each seemed to be doing his or her own thing (though for all we know, they were actually in close communication with each other in ways we weren’t perceiving). We saw lots of spouts and dorsal fins, and a few flukes from them when they sounded. While we were waiting for whales to surface, we deployed our hydrophone and eavesdropped on some close-by singers — we tend to estimate distance by how distinct and loud the sounds playing through our speakers are. Sure, we can always turn up the volume, but we know the whales are within a mile or so when we don’t need to touch those volume controls.
It wasn’t until the end of the cruise that a Humpback came close to us. This lone whale was about 40′ long, and decided to venture to that 100 yard mark. We thought that getting to hear him spout was really exciting (that rush of air on the exhalation has to be heard to be believed). And then…he started breaching. Over the next 20 minutes, our Humpback breached at least 8 times – maybe 10 times – (we were too excited to keep an accurate count). After that first breach, we all knew where to look so all of us got to see those breaches. Unbelievable.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Why do whales breach? Since we can’t ask the whales…(well, we can ask them, but they aren’t answering!!)….all we can do is speculate. Some researchers believe that the big splash generated by a breach is an attention-getting device – perhaps a way to demonstrate size, and health. It may be a way to express aggravation or aggression. It may be a way to knock unwanted skin parasites off. It may be a way to look around on the surface. Or it might just be fun – it might feel good.