New Humpback Research Published

On Wednesday’s Breakfast with the Whales Cruise, we watched a Mom/Baby/Escort pod. As is often the case when we get to see this particular grouping of whales, Mom does a lot of shallow dives, but the escort will actually show his flukes when he dives (he goes deeper and the researchers suggest that the vertical flukes-up dive is the optimal position to be in when beginning one of those deep dives). We did see the escort’s flukes, and knowing that the pattern on his tail is unique to him, we hope to recognize him again this season. We also saw spouts and dorsal fins from some other whales a bit further away from us. On our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we found a different Mom/Baby/Escort pod just as we left the bay. They were heading north slowly, so we paralleled their path and watched them for most of the cruise. We also saw some spouts from a couple other big adults who were cruising in deeper water..
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Researchers just published results of a study identifying the core bacterial communities living on Humpbacks’ skin regardless of which ocean the whales inhabit. Though they aren’t sure exactly how these bacteria interact with the whales, it is possible that the bacteria may be the reason the skins of the whales don’t get overwhelmed with organisms (the way boat hulls do). Also, by identifying the bacteria living on healthy whales, the researchers may have a new way to identify stressed and less healthy whales (by comparing the types of bacterial colonies from skin samples). In case you’re curious, the bacteria are Tenacibaculum and Psychrobacter (neither of which are found on the skins of healthy humans).