The first competition pod for season 2018 was sighted this afternoon as male Humpbacks charged through Flinders Bay, full of energy after a summer preparing for the breeding season. A mother and her yearling calf had just stopped to do a full 360 around our vessel and investigate before moving out of the bay when the competition pod began. Two large males raced towards another pod and then they were off with plenty of white water as they jostled for the number one escort position next to the female. Pushing towards each other and using their pectoral fins to “swipe” at one another we could feel the intensity levels growing amongst the males with changes of direction as they tried to lose each other in the race to keep up with the female!
Earlier in the morning we had met another mother and yearling pod who had been cruising through the bay when the female Humpback decided to start peduncle slapping and tail slapping. Warning the other pod close by not to approach her and her calf, this dominant surface behaviour is a fantastic way of sending a strong message over longer distances. The last few days we have sighted many mother and yearling pods predominantly which is wonderful to see as last years calves are now all grown up, healthy and ready to begin a life of their own. We have also noticed the underside of many tail flukes have been almost identical between mother and calf. The tail fluke of each Humpback Whale is their very own fingerprint and it is interesting to see the genes of mother Humpback being passed onto her calf with almost matching tail flukes!