Anyone who has young children in their lives may be aware of the term mum.. mum.. mum.. mum.. look at me!
Exactly our thoughts today as this young calf decided to breach only a few meters away from our bow and almost land directly on top of her mum? Not only spectacular to watch but also very educational as we noticed mum turn her head slightly to make sure she had a good view of her young calf, perhaps critiquing her calves breaching technique or making sure she wasn’t about to have 8 tonnes land on her head!
Today we had a fantastic example of The Language of the Whales™ as the mothers focused on teaching their calves pectoral slapping and breaching surface behaviours.
We believe a couple of the calves sighted today were female as there was much time spent on perfecting the pectoral slap with one mother in particular almost seeming to be pec slapping in slow motion as her calf watched on before trying it herself. When a female is ready to mate she will “call in” the males that are close by pectoral slapping and releasing a scent with both sound and scent traveling for miles and driving the males crazy!
Young female calves will need to perfect their pectoral slapping to use when they are a fair bit older, generally between 5 to 8 years of age. Male calves will also practice this behaviour but with so much focus on this particular behaviour today we were confident these young calves sighted practicing today will be the next generation of breeding Humpback females.
After some practice these busy calves then rested for a while with their mums and a good feed of milk was definitely due to replenish those energy levels that were used. We had some very curious visitors in a pod of 10 Bottlenose Dolphins who as usual came right up to the bow and along our port side checking everyone out onboard and saying hello?
-Whale Watch Western Australia
This story was adapted from a blog post, read the original here