Humpback Whales off Perth today as numerous escort pods shuffled along the coastline in search of the perfect place to rest. Our first interaction was with a large, mature male and female who were extremely easy going. These two whales were so relaxed that they were actually sleeping! Shutting down one half of their brain at a time to rest, this enables cetaceans the ability to keep an awareness of their surroundings but most importantly to remember to take that next breath. The journey south is a long one and after such an epic northern migration many of these older whales are seeking sheltered waters to rest in for a little while before taking on that next stage of their migration. Pods could be sighted around us as many escort pods were shuffling past and looking for somewhere away from the others to rest and relax in. Although most of these females are now already pregnant or beginning their rest year in-between calves, the males are still protectively monitoring the environment around them at all times for any challengers. True to form, our big male was fully aware of an incoming escort pod to our starboard side and ever so gently nudged his female in the opposite direction, “let’s go this way dear” we could hear him saying.
The approaching pod also had yet another escort pod further past them and each male escort was carefully guiding their female further away from the others with an odd tail slap, peduncle slap or breach thrown in for good measure. A huge vessel that has recently been built by Austral was completing sea trials today and travelling at top speeds which wasn’t ideal for these escort pods. We could feel the energy amongst them all as they cautiously moved in the opposite direction of the fast moving ferry which was travelling at 30+ knots. Certainly a style of vessel our WA Humpbacks would not be familiar with as along our isolated coastline relatively slower moving tankers, small recreational vessels and the steady hum of commercial fishing vessels travel more along the speed that our Humpbacks are familiar and comfortable with. It was with much fascination we observed how each of the pods were showing uncertain behaviour towards this ferry which is bound for international delivery after sea trials are complete. Our whales live in a busy world and their resilience and ability to adapt will always keep them in good stead. The whales displayed their positive attitude today by waving goodbye at the end of our morning with big, relaxed pec slapping once the ferry had departed the area and they showed off their ability to find a relaxed attitude even amongst a situation that was new for them.