The ocean erupted as just off Hillarys Humpback Whales exhaled strongly as seven tall blows could be sighted and tail lobbing began… a competition pod had begun! The increased heart rate of these males meant their breathing was regular and very strong and as we approached the area of their last resurfacing we patiently watched as everything went quiet. Shouts from our stern as an exhalation travelling at between 300 to 600 kilometres per hour rocketed behind us and we turned to see the entire pod barreling towards us at full pace, the female was looking for a distraction. Diving behind our stern and chasing after each other the female continued to lead the males on a chase after slowing them down slightly by approaching us so closely. Quickly becoming part of the pod we journeyed alongside as the males would charge towards the surface every 4-6 minutes after working hard at a depth of 20-35 meters below us trying to keep up with the female as she challenged them.
Only the fittest males would be able to keep up and we noted another two following on our stern showing great interest in joining but struggling to match the fast past of the competition pod. Hillarys Humpback Whales often rest ion the area with many mothers and calves but today was an exciting exception as we looked just over to our right and 300 meters away yet another completion pod had formed to our amazement and they also were travelling at high speeds. Mothers and their calves along the journey scattered away from the completion pod as they avoided any in terse from males starting to tire from the intense interaction. Bubble veils, fluke swiping and even trying to push each other towards the side of our vessel were all tactics used by these incredible males. The energy increased again as the second Hillarys Humpback Whale completion pod closed in and three of the males from that pod (including a beautiful white pectoral finned male) charged over to increaser our pod to 9 male Humpbacks and one very busy female Humpback Whale!