A social Humpback pod usually contains two or more individuals and this morning we met three large adults all swimming straight towards our bow. They surfaced right underneath our feet as they curiously checked out our vessel. Seeming content they allowed us to join the social Humpback pod and we journeyed with them as they cruised through Flinders Bay. Gracefully lifting their flukes, it provided us with a wonderful opportunity to get a few good photo id images for each of these individuals. They were relaxed and carefully moved their way through the abalone farm and would swim over towards us. A wonderful feeling to have joined the pod and swim alongside these beautiful adults. A few big breaches on the other side of the bay alerted us to another two pods of Humpbacks getting a bit too close to each others personal space. The breaching cleared out the area and allowed for the escort pods to continue their resting mode.
The afternoon was very interesting as two pods began to communicate and we watched a few spectacular breaches and large peduncle slaps. What was most interesting was the rather large oil slick that began to appear on the surface after all this commotion... perhaps there had been a small shark in the area that had taken an opportunity to quickly bite a resting whale. The resulting slick could be easily sighted on the surface and after a few patches it appeared to stop, hopefully the possible predation had not caused any significant damage for the whale. Just before making our way back to port a Humpback surfaced just in front of us and began to swim towards our bow. Something was different and we noticed quickly an orange rope running around the back of this whale and unfortunately we had another entanglement.
Seeming to be looking for help, this curious whale gently approached us which provided the perfect opportunity to capture some images of the entanglement and see exactly what was going on. The thick rope was just like a giant hoop that had pinned both pectoral fins, the only good news was that there was no rope through the mouth of this whale or around his peduncle/fluke. Images captured and location recorded we gently left this whale to continue his resting in the bay, he was swimming very well and may decide to continue moving north. DBCA have been contacted and will be here tomorrow morning to search for this Humpback and with good conditions forecast and a sunny day, it should help to give us the best opportunity to re-sight this whale if he remains in Augusta. Swimming so well though, it is more likely he will continue north so if anyone is out on the water over the weekend or know friends who will be, please keep an eye open for this whale and contact us or the DBCA so we can alert the rescue team.