Tuesday’s Whale Watch Cruises were a lot of fun. On the Wake up With the Whales Cruise on Seasmoke, the theme of the morning was “Babies”. We saw so many different Mom/Baby pods that when we asked the guests if they had kept count, all anyone could come up with was “a bunch”…and then we saw two more. So I guess we saw “a bunch plus two”. We had several close encounters with calves surfacing near us followed by their Mom’s and the occasional escort. We also were very lucky when a calf decided to take a close look at all of us on our idling boat and swam right up to us. Mom was pretty permissive, but after about 2 minutes, she must have decided enough was enough, and we got to watch her surface under her calf, pick him up in her rostrum, and roll him away from us. All this took place in just 40 feet of water! We also heard some loud songs through our hydrophone, and got to see a breach, some tail lobs, and some pectoral slaps (including double pec slaps). On our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we spent a good deal of time paralleling a very active competitive pod. We got to see lots of lunges, and lots of shoving around, and also heard quite a bit of trumpeting from these “out of breath” whales as they charged around on the surface.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: One of the best ways whale watchers have to identify individual Humpbacks is by the unique markings on the ventral (underside) of their flukes (tails). Currently, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory based in Seattle maintains a data base containing more than 30,000 photos of the North Pacific Humpbacks flukes dating back to 1966, but other researchers, including those involved in the 3 season SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) project have also used these patterns to identify who’s who in the whale world and estimate population levels.