Whalewatching 2016: Part 11

13 Apr
Breaching male

A male Humpback whale accompanying a receptive female (her pectoral fin is visible just in front of him) breaches near his companion. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

12 February Cruise

If you follow this blog, you might have noticed that I often include a couple of photographs of my fellow whale watchers (see the 3 February cruise’s blog post). Sometimes the antics of humans interacting with whales can be just as interesting as those of the whales.

canoe and whale off beach

A lone canoeist observes at close range a Humpback logging quietly at the surface. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Whoa!!! Don't show this one to the kids!

A raft-full of Mad Snappers (Touristicus flagrante) pursuing their favorite prey. Note the presence of the extremely rare Yellow-Shirted Butt Scratcher (Itchius persisticus) seductively perched on the port-side pontoon. (To satisfy your own prurient interest, click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Okay, back to the whales…

A solitary whale intercepts my boat then performs a roundout at close range.

A solitary whale intercepts my boat then performs a roundout at close range. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

A solitary whale does a head lunge as it surfaces just offshore from Kalepolopo Beach

A solitary whale does a head lunge as it surfaces just offshore from Kalepolopo Beach (my neighborhood). (Click on the image to see a larger version.) At first I wasn’t sure why this whale was behaving aggressively as there seemed to be no other whales nearby…

 

suddenly several other whales surfaced around him

…but suddenly several other whales surfaced around him, followed by a volley of bubble-blowing, behavior intended to disorient and intimidate other members of a competition pod. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

A closeup shot of the recipient of bubble-blowing

A closeup shot of the recipient of bubble-blowing by another member (submerged) of the competition pod. In their Alaskan feeding grounds, Humpback whales employ a similar tactic (known as a “bubble-screen”) to confuse and corral their prey. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

This whale is being subjected to bubble-screen attacks from both sides.

This whale is being subjected to bubble-screen attacks from both sides. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

During the intense activity of a surface-active competition pod, the whales' exertions cause them to exhale more often and more vigorously.

During the intense activity of a surface-active competition pod, the whales’ exertions cause them to exhale more often and more vigorously. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

Competition pod action off Maalaea

We followed this competition pod for about a half hour as it shifted from the mouth of Ma’alaea Bay back into the shallower waters near the shoreline. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

One of the members of the competition suddenly performs a violent flukes slash, a behavior that is indicative of extreme annoyance or aggression.

One of the members of the competition suddenly performs a violent flukes slash, a behavior that is indicative of extreme agitation or aggression. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

One of the larger whales of the competition pod (possibly the female) veers toward my boat

One of the larger whales of the competition pod (possibly the female) veers toward my boat; her large pectoral fins (the elongated blue-white patches visible to either side of the body) spread out full to either side of her massive body. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

We finally left the competition pod to begin the long run back to Ma’alaea Harbor, during which we passed several mother-and-calf pairs engaged in more placid activity.

A calf (probably several weeks old, judging by its size) performed a graceful flukes-up dive as the boat passed.

A calf (probably several weeks old, judging by its size) performed a graceful flukes-up dive as the boat passed. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

 

One of a pair of whales exhales a plume of steam (or "blow") as it glides along the surface at a leisurely pace.

One of a pair of whales exhales a plume of steam (or “blow”) as it glides along the surface at a leisurely pace. A normal blow may reach 15 to 20 feet into the air, easily visible several miles away. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

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