Although it is the school holidays school was in for this young Humpback calf and we had the perfect inspiration for his name… Phoenix! Little Phoenix spent over one hour practicing his peduncle slaps and his mum even joined in too. A pod of two large male Humpbacks approached mother and calf which created the opportunity for Phoenix to practice this more dominant Humpback behaviour. Repeating his peduncle slapping to warn the other males not to come any closer… but still being only a baby his message didn’t really get across as the males raced in towards mum to say hi!
After a bit of chasing from the males mum had finally had enough and a few big peduncle slaps from her sent one of the males away. Still Phoenix continued to practice and as the big tanker rolled past he seemed to be directing his peduncle slaps towards it. Having been born in the Kimberley’s he has spent the first few months of his life living amongst these massive vessels and is used to their noise and movement. Although the captain of Phoenix Island II altered his course to move further away from this active pod they certainly didn’t seem to mind and calmly waited for the tanker to move past before continuing on their way… Phoenix has already learn’t the rules of the shipping highways.
We met another pod later on and what was very special about this family of Humpbacks was that mum was a survivor of an Orca attack. Looking closely at her tail fluke you can notice the distinct rake marks left behind from an old injury that would have come from an Orca focusing his attack on her fluke. Amazingly she found a way to escape and now is living a very productive Humpback life with a young and healthy calf by her side. Every Humpback is a vitally important part of their population and their determination to adapt and survive within their unique and challenging environment has enabled them to grow from near extinction in 1962 to an estimated population of 36,000 today