Interesting competition pod!

Aloha Kakou!

On our ROB whale watching trips, we have been noticing that humpback whale peak season has passed, but we've still seen a lots of whale and lots of great activities out there. This past work week we sighted many great activities, but the most interesting one was the two males that joined a mom, calf, and escort to form a competition pod. It was awesome to watch!

We first sighted the Mom/calf pair, mom was resting on the surface, and calf was swimming around her; and then mom started to displayed head rise behavior that looks like spyhop (when a whale rises its head and eyes above the water to check what is going on around them on the surface), but head rise behavior the whale does not exposed its eyes above the water. She kept doing it for few minutes, while calf was playing around her; then the escort surfaced and stayed close to the pair. The pod stayed on the same place for a while in a really calm state; mom resting on the surface, calf playing, and escort diving and surfacing close to them. It was so peaceful, the water was glassy, no wind and even Captain Mark turned off the vessel engine, so we could enjoy the moment. But suddenly the pod began to swim slow in one direction and then increased speed; Captain Mark turn on the vessel engine and we started to follow the pod and we noticed that two whales had joined the group. Usually these joiners are males that are in a competition mode attempting to displace the primary escort and get a chance to mate with the female.

The recent formed competition pod kept swimming in fast pace in one direction with males displaying aggressive behaviors for few minutes, but interestingly this competition pod did not last long, the joiners left the group; we thought they would come back but they did not. Fascinatingly mom, calf, and escort pod turned again into a resting pod. why did the joiners swim away? Maybe the primary escort was too fit to challenge, maybe the female was not worth the fight... we will never know... what I do know is that it was so exciting to watch a very calm pod turned into a very active one in a matter of minutes.