How Intelligent are Humpback Whales?

How intelligent are Humpback Whales? Today was a perfect example of just how intelligent our Humpback Whales are as they used all elements within their environment to their advantage. During both our morning and afternoon departure we observed many bachelor males moving through the resting grounds which increased energy levels amongst the pods as the males were on the lookout for the girls. The mother whales main priority is her calf and today as the boys shuffled from one pod to the next the mother whales were all showing avoidance behaviours as they tried to outmanoeuvre the males. One mother whale already had an escort travelling with her so he was able to deter two incoming bachelor males as they moved around our vessel. Further ahead two mother whales had joined together to allow their calves some playtime as the little ones practiced tail lobs and fluke slapping but were interrupted by a bachelor male who came barreling towards them.

He followed one of the mums very carefully as the second mother and calf managed to move away. The male was excited as he followed after the mum and calf with the mother whale maintaining control of the situation by remaining relaxed. The afternoon started with high intensity as a competition pod came charging towards us with mum and calf right up the front ahead of five  boisterous males. The calf looked tired and that was when we noticed mother whale beeline our bow and swim directly underneath our feet. It worked perfectly as she disappeared to our port side and the males remained off our bow wondering where she had gone. It was a great tactic from the mother whale and she began to move around the bow of the ship at anchor as the males began to spread out in search of her. 

It took a little while but eventually they did find her again on the other side of the ship and they began to move around the vessel in circles. It was an astounding interaction to watch how the whales were using the vessels at anchor to their benefit as it provided mum and calf with a big enough distraction to slow down the males. The intelligence of our whales to know these ships are not moving and are of no danger to them at that time was on clear display today as the mother whale approached another ship further ahead once the males became more comfortable moving around the first ship. Eventually only one male remained and although he hadn’t been completely accepted as the male escort it was a relief to see that the calf was much more relaxed now and breathing at a calmer rate. Wishing them well we certainly enjoyed our day observing just how intelligent our Humpback Whales are!

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