No Mating but Valient Effort

Our guests braved the on-again, off-again rain on Wednesday, and enjoyed some pretty great whale watches. We operated two boats for our Breakfast with the Whales Cruises, and our Captains decided to go in different directions. Both Captains made the right decision, as guests on each boat saw at least 20 – 24 different whales. With all those whales out there, everyone got to see multiple breaches, pec slaps, and tail lobs. Guests on Manu Iwa were surprised when a competitive pod of 4 whales decided to use the boat for their own purposes. This pod included a Cow/Calf pair and two males who were battling to see who would dominate and get to stay with the female. They all dived multiple times just below the boat, surfacing right next to us on the other side each time. There was a lot of jockeying for position between the males, and the female did a great job keeping her calf away from the action. And on our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we found 5 different competitive pods so we actually had to choose which group to watch. We decided on paralleling a group of 4 whales who were doing a lot of tail lobbing and peduncle throws. At one point we got to watch one of them (we think it was the female, based on her behavior and position) actually roll over onto her dorsal side (her back) and slap the water with her tail multiple times. Some researchers have observed that a female whale in this position is much more difficult for a male to approach closely (in other words, she may be communicating her disinterest in mating by making it much more difficult for mating to occur).
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day:Researchers have observed that female Humpbacks with calves are accompanied by a male escort about 83% of the time during the winter season in Hawaii. Since nursing moms rarely get pregnant, we’re not sure why these males are hanging around…one theory is that the escort is trying to make a good impression on the female so that when she is receptive, she’ll consider the possibility of mating with him. Other researchers theorize that she puts up with the company of one male, hoping that he’ll scare off other amorous suitors (maybe dealing with one male at a time is better than having to deal with 2, 3, 4 or more).

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