The humpbacks have been plentiful this year and I’ve been lucky enough to have some great encounters with them in my time on the water but I’ve NEVER seen any of them do what I saw today.
We found Quattro (BCY0160) with her calf on the backside of Mayne Island and while Quattro exhibited pretty typical travelling behaviour (3-5 short breaths and then one long, fluking on her way under) her calf was the very opposite.
The calf spent almost our entire encounter at the surface repeatedly striking the water with its pec. Every once and awhile we could see it side swipe with its tail as well but it was mostly pec slapping. The extreme repetitiveness of the behaviour, coupled with the otherwise relaxed nature of both mom and calf, made me think that it was some sort pf practice. Perhaps mom had taught her calf earlier in the week what mean weapons those long pectoral flippers can be against Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales and now it was the calf’s turn to practice before it may need it in the future.