Interspecies Interactions


Most trips out on the water this time of year are exciting, but the boat trip this morning out of Ma’alaea was particularly special because we witnessed interspecies interaction. This is when animals of two or more species are doing something together. We were less than 2 miles out of the harbor when we noticed some bottlenose hunting for fish. This was exciting in itself because we are interested in identifying the resident bottlenose using their dorsal fins. As we were watching these cetaceans, and as I was getting ID photos, two humpback whales popped up on the other side of the boat. After a little time passed, the bottlenose took off swimming towards the humpback whales. As the dolphins got closer to the whales, the bottlenose maneuvered in front of the humpbacks and began bow riding on the rostrums of the whales! Now I can’t get inside the heads of the humpback whales and know exactly what they were thinking (personally, I think it would be cool to have a bow riding bottlenose), but the humpbacks seemed irritated. They started exhibiting aggressive behaviors: head-lunging and we think we heard some trumpeting. After a little more time passed the interaction was over. The bottlenose left and went back to catching fish and the humpbacks continued swimming at a medium pace in the same direction as before. Although it was short lived, it was a very exciting interspecies interaction! You might have to look hard for the little bottlenose dolphins (so much smaller than the humpbacks!), sometimes they look like large waves.