Humpback Whale tubercles are those unique golfball sized bumps on the upper and lower jaw that each contain an individual hair follicle. The purpose of these tubercles and hair follicles are still being studied but seem to aid the Humpbacks in obtaining sensory information. One significant behaviour we observe is the preference for Humpback Whales to carry or collect clumps of floating seaweed from the surface and place onto the areas of their rostrum right over the tubercles. The sensation of the seaweed dragging across these areas seems to be very enjoyable for the Humpback Whales and we see all age groups enjoying a “seaweed facial” whenever they get the chance! It was a fun day with many pods moving through the resting grounds with one of the calves enjoying a roll about in the seaweed with mum and escort.
The male escort today we noticed had a very rounded fluke and pec fin, looking to have occurred from an Orca attack when he was younger and thankfully it has healed well. He is still a very strong male escorting a mother and calf this morning with some flirty behaviour as he showed off to the mother whale with much pec slapping. The presence of Orca along our coastline is always a danger for any age group of Humpback Whale but especially the calves who need to be extra careful on their return journey south with mum. Bremer Bay Orca are known to target Humpback Whales and you can see one of the incredible hunt attempts and eventual escape of a young male Humpback here which is the first ever Humpback Whale hunt documented in the Bremer Canyons. The male escort we observed today will be well versed in handling an Orca attack situation with much confidence as he has gone through that experience before and survived. The knowledge and confidence he has makes him a perfect male escort to accompany mother and calf back down the coastline.