Mugged, Spy Hops and a Shark

We ran a lot of whale watches on Thursday, so I’ll just summarize some of the highlights. On our Breakfast with the Whales Cruise, we were mugged by a Mom and her baby who were being pursued by two escorts. We saw a couple of great double pec slaps as mom was lying on her back waving those pec fins (we’re pretty sure she was trying to give those escorts the message that she wanted nothing to do with them). Baby seemed to be having a lot of fun rolling around on Mom’s head and down her pectoral fins. At one point, the two of them came right up to the stern of the boat, and just under the surface, Mom rolled over on to her back and cradled the baby in between her pectoral fin and the left side of her body. Just after that, baby did a spy hop which included a 360 degree spin. This baby was really young – he was a very light shade of grey and had a very bent dorsal fin.
On the next cruise, we saw the same Mom and baby, and this time both of them breached multiple times  – first mom, then baby, then mom, then baby again (and baby kept going for awhile). Of course we can’t be certain that she was teaching him or that he was mimicking her, but it sure was interesting to watch. On the 12:30 cruise, we were mugged again by a different Mom/Calf/Escort pod. These whales stayed with the boat for about 15 minutes. We also saw several tail lobs and some peduncle throws about 500 yards away. As we were heading north to get back to the bay at the end of this cruise, we were passed by a competitive pod of 7 (or possibly 8 – it was impossible to count) BIG whales charging south. They came right by the boat, mostly motor boating (a behavior that describes their posture as they swim fast on the surface), but we also saw a few chin lifts and a couple of piggy backs as they passed us. Even if we were heading the same direction as they were, we’d never have been able to keep up with this pod.
And on the Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we had close encounters with 3 different Mom/Baby/Escort pods, and saw several tail lobs and peduncle throws about 500 yards away. Just north of the Bay we did see an unusual thing…we saw a very big shark cruise by. Our naturalist Mike wasn’t able to identify the species, but he did say it was really big!
Mahalo, and have a great weekend. I’ll send out the weekend recap on Monday.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the DayDo you know the easiest way to distinguish whether that big creature swimming rapidly towards you is a whale or a shark? Watch the way it swims…whales propel themselves through the water by moving their tails up and down vertically. Sharks and other fish move their tails from side to side. Aristotle was the first person to document this difference around 350 B.C. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this information for anything other than winning a trivia contest!