Whalewatching 2016: Part 3

18 Jan
peduncle throw 1 - 9 Jan 2016

Nice shot of a Humpback whale doing a “peduncle throw”. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

9 January 2016 Cruise

Today’s cruise was typical of the mixture of good luck and challenges typical of nature photography.

Although volcanic smog (called “vog” by locals) enveloped all of Ma’alaea Bay in a thick gray haze and plagued my shoot by scattering sunlight and making pulling a focus difficult, there were so many surface-active groups and individual whales the Voyager’s captain had a hard time deciding which ones were worth following.

Oddly enough, although the vog seemed to literally swallow colors, leaving everything to come out in shades of gray and black, the haze actually provided better contrast for photos.

This cruise featured lots off surface activity with a wide variety of behaviors, including breaching, prolonged episodes of flukes slapping, and spectacular peduncle throws.

breach 1 - 9 Jan 2016

A partial breach shot from almost a half-mile away. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

The five following images are a sequence of shots taken of a single breach by a whale more than a mile off.

far breach 1 - 9 Jan 2016

#1 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

far breach 2 - 9 Jan 2016

#2 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

far breach 3 - 9 Jan 2016

#3 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

far breach 4 - 9 Jan 2016

#4 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

far breach 5 - 9 Jan 2016

#5 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

comp pod & breach - 9 Jan 2016

A whale participating in a competition pod suddenly breaches mightily in the midst of the other whales. (Click on the image to view a larger version.)

 

one mile out - 9 Jan 2016

This breaching whale was shot at the very limit of my 300 mm telephoto lens, probable more than a mile distant. Pu’u Olai crater is seen on the horizon.(Click on the image to see a larger version.)

The following photographs are shots of various whales displaying an aggressive behavior known as a “peduncle throw”. The whale’s caudal peduncle (the end-most portion of its body just before the tail) and flukes are thrown up and out of the water and quickly slammed down sideways on the surface (or another whale). This behavior is usually seen in energetic surface-active competition pods.

peduncle throw 4 - 9 Jan 2016

#1 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

peduncle throw 2 - 9 Jan 2016

#2 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

peduncle throw 6 - 9 Jan 2016

#3 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

peduncle throw 3 - 9 Jan 2016

#4 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

peduncle throw 5 - 9 Jan 2016

#5 –> Click on the image to view a larger version.

 

The following photographs show several whales displaying the behavior known as fluke slaps. The whale’s caudal peduncle and flukes are repeatedly slammed downward on the surface, producing an explosion of water and sound.

flukes slap 2 - 9 Jan 2016

#1 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

flukes - 16 Jan 2016

#2 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

flukes slap

#3 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

The two following pics show the size comparison of a whale to an inflatable raft carrying more than a dozen passengers.

whale and raft 2 - 9Jan2016

#1 –> Click on the image to view a larger version.

 

whale and raft - 9Jan2016

#2 –> Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

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