Whalewatching 2015: Part 3

12 Mar
Perfect conditions: two whales

 Mother (foreground) and calf doing “roundouts”, a commonly seen shallow surface-dive behavior.  Absolutely perfect conditions for a day of “whale soup.” (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

7 February Cruise

Great weather today: cloudless and windless; glass-smooth seas with a gentle swell rolling in from the southwest. Almost immediately after Ocean Intrigue left the harbor breakwater, we started seeing lots of whales: Captain Joe calls it “whale soup.” Lots of low-energy behavior: roundouts without dives were common. No breaches nearby, but we did spot several surface-active competition pods and mother-calf-escort pods.

Whale bearing down on a sailboat

A member of a competition pod heads toward a sailboat that has luffed its mainsail to slow down and get a better look at the surface-active pod. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

There was not a lot of variety of surface behavior within the pods we encountered: mostly just head lunges and aggressive bubble-blowing.

Head lunge, notched dorsal fin male

This male (note the odd notched dorsal fin) was doing a lot of aggressive head-lunging in a small surface-active competition pod. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

One pair of males in a low-energy competition pod surfaced together in a slow-moving double head lunge that was almost as gently executed as a pair of ballet dancers performing a pas de deux.

Double head lunge - 1

A slow-moving double head lunge: “Whoa! What are YOU doing here?” (Click on image to see a larger version.)

At the surface, the two paused and seemed to be quietly eying each other; then, after a few seconds, politely backed off from their near collision.

This "double head lunge" was so cautious and low-key that it looked more like the two whales were sort of looking over the competition without wishing to get involved in a turf battle. It was just too nice a day for it, I guess!

This “double head lunge” was so cautious and low-key that it looked more like the two whales were sort of looking over the competition without wishing to get involved in a turf battle. It was just too nice a day for it, I guess! (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

All this was done with none of the violent splashing and blowing that usually accompanies head lunging behavior.

Spyhop: "Barnacle Bill"

As this mature male surfaces during a brief “spy hop”, he displays his lower jaw covered with the numerous chalky-white rings left behind by encrusting barnacles scraped off or knocked off long ago. I’ve never seen so many “barnacle rings” on a whale! (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

A bit later in the cruise, I was able to get several nice closeup shots of some very photogenic flukes-up dives.

A very photogenic flukes-up dive with seawater dripping artfully from the fringe of this whale's flukes.

A very photogenic flukes-up dive with seawater dripping artfully from the fringe of this whale’s flukes. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Flukes-up shooting into the sun

Flukes-up shooting into the sun: I liked the star-effect on the highlights. Even in this fully sunlit over-exposure, you can still see the coloration pattern on the ventral aspect of the whale’s flukes. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Perfect flukes-up shot!

A perfect flukes-up dive! (Click on image to see a larger version.)

 

 

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One Response to “Whalewatching 2015: Part 3”

  1. Tom Kirkpatrick 8 July 2015 at 6:32 PM #

    Mike, I have always admired your talent and I remember looking over some of your photos with you. I’m trying to contact you.

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