Competition Heats Up


Saturday’s morning Whale Watches were full of competiton. On our 8:00 Wake up with the Whales  Cruise from Anaeho’omalu Bay we paralleled a competitive pod of 5 or 6 humpbacks including Mom and her baby for an hour and 20 minutes. We saw them as we left the bay, and were able to stay with them till we got to Puako. These whales were so active we never were really sure exactly how many were in the pod. We saw lots of head lunges, peduncle throws and tail lobs from all the adult whales. Unfortunately, we had to turn back before we could see the resolution of the competition. On our 10:00 Signature Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we also got to watch a competitive pod including Mom and her baby. In this case, we were able to see the pod dissolve, as one of the males gave up, leaving Mom and baby with just a single escort. Before they broke up, we saw lots of shoving and pushing between the two males, and got to see a some lunging and head lifts too. And on our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we had a repeat of the action we saw on Thursday’s Whales and Cocktails Cruise…LOTS of breaching from Mom, an Escort and baby. Baby seemed to be reacting to the adults around him, because he didn’t start breaching till after they finished, but once he started, he just didn’t want to stop!
On Sunday, we operated back to back to back cruises on Alala from Kawaihae Harbor. All day long we were seeing competitive pods, and pods of Mom/Baby usually accompanied by multiple escorts, but occasionally accompanied by just one escort. Highlights included head lunges and peduncle throws from competing males, lots of breaching (from the calves too), and both tail lobs and pec slaps. Whenever we dropped our hydrophone, we heard lots of singing over a range of distances (some loud, clear voices, and a lot of faint voices joining the choir too).
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Recently, researchers studying singing male Humpbacks were able to determine that immature males do join mature humpbacks in singing. These researchers theorize that every voice is important as a means to attract females to the “arena” where the males have congregated. Since we know that the females don’t respond to an individual male’s song – it’s not like a songbird’s song, designed to attract a female and repel other males – the researchers theorize that the humpbacks’ songs are meant to attract females to the” arena.” And though the immature males don’t get to mate, they may benefit too by indirectly learning the songs and the social rules of mating.

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