Whale WrestleMania

It was Whale WrestleMania today as we watched acrobatic displays in the morning and wrestling, competitive males in the afternoon in Augusta. Our morning began peacefully as two Humpbacks travelling together in the shallows swam alongside us and curiously approached. We could hear their gentle and powerful exhale and could just about count the barnacles on their skin as they swam towards us and alongside us on their way to a resting ground. Finding the perfect, peaceful pocket in the bay we wished them well to continue their relaxing morning as we joined with a surface active juvenile. Powerful tail lobs were impressive as he launched the lower half of his body out of the water a few times before departing the area. The bay was filled with resting whales and we were very excited to see just ahead of us our first Southern Right Whales of Season 2020! They didn’t stay on the surface for too long and a graceful lift of the fluke had them diving back down to rest and as they were not wanting to interact we respected their space and introduced ourselves to yet another active juvenile Humpback Whale. She was busily launching into tail lobs, one after the other in spectacular style. Landing not far from our bow, she was calling out to the others around her but didn’t receive a response, too many escort pods this morning for this young whale.

The afternoon was the same peaceful fashion with two resting Humpbacks travelling together when breaching began just up ahead. A competition pod had formed and we now had five big, powerful Humpbacks surging through the bay. It soon turned into Whale WrestleMania as the males Speared, Pedigreed and Frog Splashed their opponents (some WWE knowledge of wrestling moves may be helpful here!). In translation, they were pushing, jostling and even lifting each other up onto their backs and pushing each other away from the female. It was incredible to witness and the other whales throughout the bay responded to the energy with surface activity of their own with distant breaching and tail lobs. The competition pod continued for almost two hours of intense wresting and we all had a good laugh when a surprise visitor popped up in the mayhem. A cheeky NZ Fur Seal had his flippers bobbing in and amongst the competing males, completely oblivious to what was going on, he almost looked to have a humorous grin as he looked back at the camera.

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