What is a Humpback Reversal?

What is a Humpback Reversal? The Humpback breeding season is filled with incredible displays of the Language of the Whales and one of these is the Humpback Whale reversal. During competitive interactions males will often find a way to block the whales behind them quickly. Slamming on the brakes by bringing their pectoral fins forward they propel upwards into what looks like a giant spy hop. During that movement they will often fill their mouths with water or air to expand their throat pleats and make themselves look bigger. Throat expanded, they will then slink backwards into the ocean again and at this time any male behind them will have to stop abruptly to avoid running into the reversal in front of them. Departing the harbour this afternoon we came across a few resting pods before a competition pod of five charged through the bay.

The female was out in front and leading the males quickly towards the abalone farm. The local Bottlenose Dolphins appeared and raced over to join the action as they began to bow ride the waves the Humpbacks were making. One of the males was displaying the reversal behaviour repeatedly and it was spectacular to see him open his mouth to inflate his throat. The comp pod rumbled on through the bay and it seemed that our dominate male was holding his ground and maintaining his spot next to the female. The others were tough competitors as one launched into a powerful tail lob sending white water flying. The dramatic afternoon lighting added to the beautiful scene as we wished them well for what seemed to be a couple of hours yet of competition with all whales still tightly competing as we made our way back towards the harbour.

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