Another Fierce Competition

 

This week we saw the most violent competition pod yet this season. There were only 6 humpbacks, but the action was intense. The males were swimming incredibly fast, at speeds of up to 8 knots, zig-zagging around and changing direction without warning. The captain was having quite a time trying to keep up with them. It got the point where we just idled as the whales continued moving closer, then farther away and then closer again while they battled.  They even left a massive make in the water, hundreds of feet across, as they battled and raced.

At first it seemed that, like many competitions, the action was underwater. After a while, we could see huge splashes letting us know there was some sort of thrashing and body contact going on. Then the whales started shoving each other and leaping out of the water to force each other down. This is a relatively rare behavior (only a couple of our researchers saw something like it in Australia). Even the captain had never seen such behavior before and decided to call it the “sumo move” since the whales looked like they were repeatedly shoving one another.

It was very exciting to watch, and a bit painful too. When they were close enough, we could actually see a whale get the wind knocked out of it as another whale landed on its back. We could also see heads and tails snapping out of the water, signaling that there had been some sort of blow under the water that we couldn’t see. It was hard not to imagine how painful it must be to have something the size of a bus ramming into you or jumping on top of you. In the words of our naturalist for the trip, it must have been a very pretty lady whale those boys were fighting over for us to see that kind of action.

Image: 

Comments

Anonymous (visitor) says:

I believ this is the trip my husband and I were on. It was amazing. The males were relentless. Fantastic show! We also got some great photos. Have not had a chance to view the cd from you. Can't wait to see it...thanks for a great time. Eileen & Tom

Bj (visitor) says:

Witnessed this is 2007. So excited to be coming to see it again in a week! Left such a lasting memory, unbelievable experience to see!