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Crazy Competition

Competitive Pod of Humpbacks

Febuary 1. 2024


Wednesday brought us more ocean swells, but also some pretty “swell” Whale Watch Cruises (sorry…couldn’t resist writing that).

Guests on our Wake Up with the Whales Cruise from Anaeho’omalu Bay began the trip paralleling a competitive pod of 3 Humpbacks (Mom, Baby and Escort). As we watched, another male joined the group. The primary Escort (the one closest to Mom) started head lunging, and he kept at it for the rest of the trip. We’re thinking that all the commotion from our competitive pod attracted other Humpbacks to the area because by the end of the cruise there were 8 Humpbacks in the group (6 males chasing Mom and her baby). One time during the fracas, the baby surfaced about 20 feet from us too.

On our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise from Kawaihae we saw spouts before we even got out of the harbor. Most of the Humpbacks we watched during the cruise were between 200 and 400 yards from our boat but we did get to watch a pod of two surface and spout just 100 yards from us before they sounded. After waiting around awhile, we figured they had left the area, so we were just about to go too when they surprised us by surfacing 20 yards from us. And then they actually headed right towards the boat, getting within touching distance before diving again — though we didn’t touch them and they didn’t touch us either.

We weren’t too surprised when on our Late-Morning Whale Watch Cruise from Anaeho’omalu Bay we found the same competitive pod we had been watching during our 8AM Whale Watch Cruise. This time we got to see several breaches and pec slaps from this excited pod of whales (at one point there were 7 Humpbacks chasing Mom, and by extension, her calf). A couple of times during the cruise, Mom and the calf surfaced just 25 yards from us. If Mom was trying to use us as an obstacle to slow down the chase, which we think she was, we were actually ok with that strategy. When we could tear our eyes away from all this action, we saw some spouts and flukes from other Humpbacks in our vicinity.



Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: When we watch a surface active competitive pod of whales, we assume it is comprised of one female either leading or being chased by a group of males. It often appears that every male is competing with every other male for access to the female. Recently researchers have observed that male humpbacks may form coalitions, working together to corral the female so that one may have easier access to her.