Tall exhalations filled the horizon followed with wild splashes and movement, we had a competition pod in October! Approaching a pod of twelve Humpback Whales we watched in amazement as they charged towards Rottnest Island chasing a female, this Language of the Whales™ we sight during the northern migration in June and July so it was a wonderful surprise and very special to be sighting this type of pod so late in the season. The males had rostrums rubbed raw from the close contact and 45 tonnes pushing up against each other, after a long season many of the wounds obtained from this breeding and competition pod season are still trying to heal. Two of the males had old entanglement scarring but it was fantastic to see that it wasn’t slowing them down at all as they raced after the female in a highly energetic and intense heat run with all twelve Humpbacks trying their hardest.
At one point we gasped in amazement as one of the males positioned himself onto the back of another trying to prevent him from surfacing, the male below lifted himself and 45 tonnes from the other male clear of the ocean below in an incredible display of strength. The fitness levels of these males are truly remarkable, this is the tail end of the season with almost all of their fat reserves depleted and bodies would certainly be sore. However, the lure of an available female pushed these males back into that competitive spirit and we watched with much admiration as the males jostled to get as close to the female as possible and take over as her primary escort. The backdrop of Rottnest Island and the Perth skyline highlighted how fortunate we are to live in a part of the Western Australian coastline which is so important to our Humpback Whales. The female moved straight towards, underneath and around our vessel on a number of occasions to try slowing the males down and it worked momentarily before they increased speed once again. Two of the younger males did eventually depart, seeming tired and with their departure came a slight calm over the competition pod and we decided to leave them at this point and wish them all well for the rest of their migration.