Competition is heating up!

 

We’ve been seeing a lot of active competition pods lately. In a competition pod, multiple males will compete with one another for a spot closest to a female, the primary escort position.  These types of gatherings can be incredibly exciting to watch. Males may head-butt one another, blow bubbles in other males faces, and even throw their peduncles on each other while they jostle for position next to the female. Because of all of the activity going on, the whales aren’t underwater for long periods of time. And sometimes the fighting comes right up to the surface.

It seems as though larger and more competitive pods are normally seen towards the end of the season, but at the end of last week, we saw a competition pod of 8 to 10 whales (sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly how many with all of the activity).  Not only was the group large, they were very competitive. The males were inflating their mouths and throats as they head-lunged, making themselves look larger. We could see huge bubble blasts surfacing as whales blew in each other’s faces.  Males lunged on top of one another and threw their peduncles on top of their neighbors. As we watched the action, we could hear the angry trumpeting and thundering jaw claps made by the males. They didn’t seem to care about us at all, but did pass close enough a few times that we could see the bloody tubercles on a few of the whales.

And throughout all that activity, this group was moving fast! We made it more than halfway to Lana’i trying to keep up with this competition pod. Maybe the female was trying to test the fitness of her suitors, maybe she wanted nothing to do with them, we’ll never really know, but they put on quite a show for us.

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