Wow, the whales made our job super easy today... We had barely started looking for them when we came across a mother and juvenile (probably around 2 years old), that were giving each other a run for their money in terms of displays! They were both breaching, tail slapping, inverted tail slapping, tail lobbing, pectoral flipper waving... at one point the female was lying on her back, lifting her tail high in the air for inverted tail slaps, while at the same time the juvenile lifted its head above the water, looking at us, then rolling over and waving a pectoral flipper... all of this right next to the boat! Just an incredible display and some amazing photo opportunities!
We tend to think these behaviours are probably a form of communication for the whales and certainly see that in a lot of cases, for example when they breach to attract other whales to them and then swim on as a group... but in this case, the pair swam right up to our boat, then stayed there and continued to display all these amazing behaviours for a good 20 minutes or so, quite obviously directed at us. It was like they were showing off, then stuck their heads up to check if we were watching, before continuing their antics! While it can be hard to interpret exactly what their motive may be, you can’t help but feel that they are having fun and enjoying the interaction with us!
Eco Ranger Ina
Tangalooma Marine Education & Conservation Centre