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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Dolphins ridin' the bow..

We spent most of today watching the antics of a young adult male humpback whale who was swimming together with another whale in the waters just north of Cape Moreton. The male spent a good 45 minutes continuously lifting his tail out of the water, waving it in the air, and slapping it back onto the surface of the water. Maybe he was trying to impress the other whale swimming with him, presumably a female? The second whale certainly seemed quite interested in his display, she stayed very close to him and kept swimming around him and checking him out. I think more than likely it was a form of courtship display, as the two of them were slowly making their way north towards the breeding grounds.

Courtship takes many different forms in humpback whales, ranging from the testosterone fuelled heat runs (several males chasing a female and competing with each other) to the beautiful love songs the males sing to attract a partner. Different whales seemed to have different strategies for finding a mate and it is certainly quite possible that this young male thought waving and slapping his tail for such a long time was a good way of showing off his strength and stamina. His companion certainly seemed quite intrigued by his behaviour so he must have been doing something right...

Either way, it was fun for us to watch and provided plenty of great photo opportunities!

We finished the day with a quick sighting of a pod of common dolphins that suddenly came racing in to ride our bow and jump out of the wake behind our vessel! These common dolphins are a rarely seen species (despite the name) because they tend to live in deeper, more offshore waters. But we sometimes get lucky enough to see them around the northern end of Moreton Island. They are always a lot of fun to watch as they are very fast, full of energy, and absolutely seem to LOVE bowriding!


Posted by Ben
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