Whalewatching 2015: Part 8

21 May
pec wave with ventral pleats

Nice shot of a pectoral-fin wave showing barnacles at the tip and leading edge and the linear ventral pleats at the base of the fin. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

28 February Cruise

It rained heavily and continuously the previous night, and when the Ocean Intrigue left its slip in Ma’alaea Harbor in the gray morning light, a heavy tropical downpour settled in over that end of the bay. But the rain stayed close to shore, and by the time we’d sailed about a mile out into the more open waters at the mouth of the bay, we left the rain behind. Unfortunately, the bay was still blanketed by a heavy darkening overcast, conditions that prevented my camera’s sensor from rendering colors properly, degraded the contrast of all but a few images, and resulted in photos plagued by over-saturation toward shades of dark-gray and near-black. On the plus side, a brisk westerly breeze created only a few subdued whitecaps, not enough to obscure the whales’ surface activities.

We began the cruise trailing an energetic cow-and-calf pair that, from time-to-time, attracted solitary male escorts.

calf breaching 2 - 28 Feb

Nice shot of an older calf breaching; it shows in great detail the tubercles on the whale’s rostrum. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

calf breach

A somewhat younger calf practicing breaching. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

I took a series of shots where Mom had rolled over onto her side, performing pectoral-fin waves and her calf appears to be resting briefly on her upturned belly, or maybe doing playful shallow “jumps” over her as she floated low in the water.

cow with calf on her tummy 1 - 28 Feb

A female rolled over onto her left side doing a slow pectoral-fin wave; her calf appears to be draped over her belly. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

cow and calf on her tummy 2 - 28 Feb

The calf appears to leap off its mother’s belly as she right herself in the water. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

I’ve never seen this behavior before, and only discovered it while processing closeups of the shots in Photoshop!

mom rolled onto back and calf - 28 Feb

Her calf swims at her side as the female rolls completely onto her back. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

We only witnessed one or two breaches (by calves) on this cruise; most activity consisted of lots of  slow flukes-up dives, long drawn-out pectoral-fin waves, and half-hearted pursuit of females by small (3 to 4 whales) competition pods.

flukes up dive

Nice close-up shot of a flukes-up dive. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

pec wave closeup - 28 Feb

A whale rolled onto its left side shows off the ventral surface of a pectoral fin and the tip of its barnacle-encrusted flukes. The dark-gray shadow visible between the fin and flukes is the side of the whale. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

pecs up rolled over - 28 Feb

A mature Humpback rolled completely onto is back performs a leisurely double pectoral-fin wave. Its ventral pleats are clearly visible. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

I shot 522 frames and kept 131. That’s about 25-percent retention, far better than is usual on a day with less-than-ideal lighting and weather conditions.

pecs up rolled over - 28 Feb

As this young adult whale slips below the waves, it displays the unique coloration pattern of the ventral aspect of its flukes. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

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