Building Trust with Cetaceans

Building trust with cetaceans is a fundamental part of being a whale watcher and today was the perfect example as a beautiful mother whale and her calf became good friends. It was a beautiful morning as we departed the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and enjoyed the calm conditions, warm breeze and beautiful blue sky. The local Bottlenose Dolphins came over to say good morning and we could see their lovely streamlined, grey bodies gliding through the water towards our bow enthusiastically. Over the years we have built a trust with these local dolphins who now recognise the sound of our vessel and see us as friends, just as we see them as best mates. It was onwards to the sighting grounds and it wasn’t long until we sighted the tall and distinctive blow of a Humpback Whale. It was a beautiful mother Humpback and surfacing right alongside was her precious calf. They were new arrivals in the resting ground and were setting a steady pace towards a suitable spot to rest for a while and for calf to have a feed of delicious milk.

The only trouble was commercial vessels heading our way and also many recreational vessels racing towards Rottnest Island. Building trust with cetaceans takes time and patience, something that cannot be rushed or forced. Whales are incredibly intelligent and will respond accordingly should they feel any dominance, aggression or franticness from approaching vessels. Throughout the interaction this calm and patient female would not leave our vessel for long, she was using us as a block towards the other vessels and hiding in our sound footprint. She had built a trust with us and it was a very special journey today as we could feel the trust growing between everyone onboard and this very special family pod. Little calf was very interested in us and would look carefully on each surfacing, spending a little longer than required to check us out before mum would join her calf on the surface for a look as well. Eventually the other vessels left and it allowed mother and calf to achieve what they had always set out to do in the first place, rest and relax which was a perfect opportunity for us to glide past and wish them a wonderful afternoon ahead.

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