We only ran one Whale Watch Cruise on Wednesday. but it was a good one. Guests on our Breakfast with the Whales Cruise saw 5 different whales. We spent most of the beginning of the cruise with 3 surface-active whales. Two of them were tail-lobbing, peduncle throwing, and pec slapping right on top of each other. While we were watching, a third whale made a b-line right towards all the activity. We must have seen 9 peduncle throws and more than a dozen tail lobs (only two pec slaps though). The peduncle thrower was also the whale who was doing all those tail lobs (and they were backwards tail lobs too…s/he was hitting the dorsal side of his tail on the surface). The other whale was lying on his/her side and showed us two pectoral slaps before diving. About the time the third whale reached the others, they all spouted and took a long dive. And then…they disappeared from us. We stayed in the area for a long time before seeing two more whales further out on the horizon.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Today I have to report on some very recently published research findings. Dr. Alison Craig and her associates observed that female Humpbacks in Hawaii with calves in tow swim 75% faster when they’re being chased by males in deep water than when they’re being chased in shallow water. As water depth decreased so did the number of males following the mother, making females most likely to be found alone with their calves in the shallows. So why is this observation important?
Dr. Craig suggests that it is unwanted male attention which causes the females and calves to increase their swimming speed, in turn requiring the mothers to supply their calves with more milk to compensate for the extra energy they’ve used. Since the females aren’t feeding in Hawaii, the researchers theorize that these female Humpbacks are actually seeking shallow water not to avoid predators…but to avoid sexual harassment from male Humpbacks!
The Whale Watching is spectacular right now! Highlights from Monday include sightings of 20 different Humpbacks on our 10:00 Whale Watch, including 3 different Mom/Baby pods. One of these calves was really active, head lunging 4 times and tail lobbing 3 times.But the best part was watching him breach 5 different times. This little guy was really getting good at it – one of the times he actually got a half turn in mid-air! We also saw a competitive pod of 4 whales, and heard some nice clear songs through the hydrophone. The action continued on to the Whales and Cocktails Cruise where we saw 25 different Humpbacks including two competitive pods. The competition was fierce, and we got to witness pretty much every surface display you can see from a Humpback – tail lobs, peduncle throws, pec slaps, breaches, head lunges – you name it and we were there! We also found a Mom with her baby and watched baby breach (very cute when compared with our sightings of the big guys doing it in the throws of competition).
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: All mammals have hair. Humpback Whales are mammals… so where is their hair? Humpbacks have rows of bumps on their chins that we call “tubercles”. Out of each one, sticks a hair that’s about 1/2 inch long that we call a “vibrissa”. Because there’s a nerve ending underneath each hair, and blood flow to the nerve, we know the whales use these hairs to sense something…but we’re not sure what they’re sensing. Quite likely, they use their hairs like cats use their whiskers– to feel some sort of proprioception