Late Mating and Record Breaking Humpback Migration

I don’t have much to report from our Thursday Whale Watches. The ocean was kind of choppy, and that, combined with the vog, made sightings pretty difficult. Neither of our “official” whale watches found any whales, but our onboard naturalist Mike reports that he did see a pod of Mom/Calf on the evening sail. He said that the baby was really small…which makes sense in terms of what we know about the Humpbacks’ migratory patterns. A female Humpback who got pregnant late last season would give birth late this season. She’ll stay around the shallow waters of Hawaii till her little calf is big and strong enough to begin the swim back to Alaska. Mike said that the adult looked pretty small too…again, it makes sense if you attribute some of the mating strategy management to the females. Though we’re not sure that this is what’s actually going on, if mating isn’t dominated by the biggest toughest males, and if the female does have something to do with choosing her mate, then a smaller, less dominant female might be one of the last to mate in the season, thus producing a late season calf. We just don’t know….
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Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: Based on the number of Humpback sightings we’ve been experiencing, we know that most of the Humpbacks have begun their almost 3000 mile long migration to the waters off of Alaska…which sounds like a very long swim. But in 2001 a Norwegian tourist snapped a photo of a female Humpback in breeding grounds off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. When he found the photo again in 2010 and posted it, researchers were able to match the flukes to a photo they had taken of the SAME whale in breeding grounds off the coast of Brazil — which means she had swum more than 6000 miles! Researchers aren’t sure what motivated the whale to swim across the Atlantic– until this whale was identified in both places, it was assumed that Humpbacks only travelled across latitudes, not longitudes. Which just goes to show you…we still have a LOT to learn.
Mahalo and have a wonderful weekend. I’ll send out the next report on Monday.
Captain Claire