Rottnest whale watching with the Humpback Whales today as we sighted relaxed mothers and calves along with Captain Hook, the large male sighted on our previous tours competition pod who came over to check out some powerful surface activity. Spending the beginning of our morning with the numerous mothers and their babies resting in the glassy conditions as some were feeding while one particular mother and calf who were travelling with an escort swam straight towards and underneath us. The reason why, as we looked behind us, was because of two large adults moving towards us. Looking carefully we quickly recognised Captain Hook who was one of the large males competing for a female on Wednesday morning. Seeming to recognise us well before we recognised him he cruised on over with his mate before continuing towards Rottnest Island on what was a peaceful morning Rottnest whale watching as our Humpback took the time to prepare for the next leg of their journey.
Energy and environment can change in an instant when Rottnest whale watching and it was one of our guests who made a very good spot behind us of surface activity beginning in a hurry! Two large adults launched themselves skywards in enormous peduncle slaps and inverted fluke slapping with much intensity. Although the beginning of this surface activity began naturally, unfortunately a recreational vessel sighted the activity and approached the pod at speed. The pods demeanour changed from natural behaviour to reactive, aggressive behaviour as they continued to tail slap vigorously to warn the vessel not to approach. Much to everyones disappointment the vessel did not slow but instead continued to approach the pod at speed until they were so close the white water from the fluke slap was hitting their bow. The pod was now startled and submerged quickly, now not focusing on the second pod who was approaching them but instead keeping below the surface and away from the recreational vessel who had invaded their reactionary distance and ignored their warning behaviour.
We waited patiently as we knew that the size of these adults meant they would be able to hold their breath for a very long time and it wasn’t until the recreational vessel departed the area ten minutes later that they resurfaced. The pod was now relaxed again as their personal space was back and as we watched the second pod finally join the surface active whales we recognised Captain Hook and he was leading his new mates directly towards us! They then proceeded to swim below us before surfacing on the other side as they curiously investigated our vessel. A perfect example for our guests today the importance of understanding how sound and respect are vital in ensuring our whales feel relaxed and we are able to observe natural behaviour when with them. Education is key to our future with whales and ingraining in our society a respect towards wildlife and their space to ensure a fantastic future for both humans and whales, if you give whales your time they will give you theirs.