Today was all about the flirty female Humpbacks of Flinders Bay who had the attention of not only the male Humpbacks but also ourselves! Numerous pods within the bay were travelling through with one competition pod of 6 individuals racing towards the abalone farm at full speed. The female had a clever idea to slow the following males down by giving them an obstacle course to move through and only the smartest and fastest males would be able to keep up. Her plan worked and three of the following males changed direction which allowed the remaining two males to continue the competition.
A very friendly and young female Humpback was calling us over with big tail lobbing and pectoral slapping to get our attention. Once we had arrived she swam directly towards our vessel and stayed underneath us as another pod of two traveled past. Once the strange pod had moved off she reappeared right alongside our vessel to everyones delight. Swimming around and around our vessel, she was a fun and full of energy personality who seemed to enjoy her crowd of admirers. Only young, we at first thought that this could be a possible re-sighting of Sally the Humpback but can now confirm through dorsal fin identification that the lovely female we spent time with this morning is a new individual we have not met previously.
She was covered in barnacles which created the question as to why Humpback Whales have so many barnacles on them? Living in the rich waters of Antarctica over the summer months it is a prime time for these skin parasites to find a comfy, mobile home and the Humpback Whales are a perfect target. The type of barnacles living on the skin of Humpbacks are known as Coronula diadema and will place themselves onto the skin of the Humpback whale wherever they may fall when whales swim through the larvae stage of these skin parasites nicknamed Acorn Barnacles. Thankfully for the Humpbacks, the lifespan of these barnacles is generally 12 months and the adult barnacles seem to become less prevalent on whales as they spend more time in warmer waters, perhaps a tropical holiday in the winter is not suitable for the Acorn Barnacles!