Humpback fuel reserves are precious as they travel up to six months and 13,000 kilometres without a single meal, only their fat reserves sustaining them during this timeframe. Today on our journey to the sighting grounds we watched on as two large tankers and a trio of tugs worked together for a successful refuelling task at hand. It made us think about the incredible achievement our Humpbacks make on each of their journeys. These tankers have themselves travelled thousands of kilometres but are able to refuel during their trips to sustain them until the next stop. Humpbacks do not have this same opportunity during their travels and from the moment they leave Antarctica until they return, not a single meal will be enjoyed.
That means every decision they make is important as any wasted energy or unnecessary energy usage will affect them in the long run as they close in on the end of an epic migration. The calves of this season are similar to the tankers though, mother Humpback will produce for them over 200 litres of milk per day to ensure that they are sustained during the trip back to the summer feeding grounds in Antarctica. Adult Humpback fuel reserves are limited during this time of the season as they make use of the waters off Fremantle for rest rather than refuelling. We have a great responsibility as whale watchers to ensure we do not interfere with our whales natural behaviour as this will cause unnecessary energy usage. Observing and not influencing is key and our top priority during each of our interactions.
Today we met firstly a mother and her calf quietly moving through the resting grounds and keeping a low profile. Just up ahead a second mother and her calf were carefully following a lone adult moving up ahead of them. The adult didn’t seem interested in the attention from this pod and wanted to continue travelling on her own as she began a powerful surface display. Tail lobbing and inverted tail slapping caused large plumes of white water to form and a message was sent out to the other whales. Perhaps she was looking for the company of a male escort rather than a social interaction with mother and calf who respectfully moved off after the surface display. Our final pod during a busy morning was with a cow/calf/escort who were calmly travelling together, the mother and calf had the most beautiful matching hooked dorsal fins!