Cetacean courtship behaviour is unique and different for each species and this afternoon we had courting Humpbacks to our left and a courtship pod of three Southern Right Whales to our right with an incredible whale watch afternoon in Augusta. The winds dispersed and left us with beautiful conditions as we made our way into the bay and all eyes looked carefully for that first sighting. Shortly after our departure three blows were sighted all within 150 meters of each other, these three juvenile Humpback Whales were hanging out close to a huge congregation of baitfish, diving Gannets, Seagulls and Crested Terns. Common Dolphins raced towards our bow for a quick hello as one of the juvenile Humpbacks approached our stern, curiously diving around our vessel.
Taking an interest towards us he decided to circle around a couple of times before continuing on with his afternoon, a powerful tail lob indicated that he had completed his investigation of us and now wanted to rest so we wished him a wonderful afternoon ahead and continued our own investigation of Flinders Bay.
White water ahead started and we watched carefully as pec slap after pec slap continued with a beautiful white bellied whale and her male escort swimming directly towards us and we could see that they had extremely curious intentions with their approach.
They surrounded our vessel as the female continued to flirt away with pec slapping only meters from us, it was incredible to hear the powerful thud as her almost one thousand kilogram pectoral hit the surface.
These two Humpbacks were flirting towards each other and the more interest she showed towards the boat by coming incredibly close and pec slapping, the more her male escort tried to keep her attention away from us. The only distraction was two hundred meters ahead of us as we sighted three Southern Right Whales in their own courtship pod.
The two males were flirting with the female as their enormous pectoral fins gently glided across the back of the female, embracing her in an enormous Southern Right Whale hug!
It was truly incredible to witness as we looked to our left as the female Humpback would pec slap and then over to our right as the Southern Rights were rolling around together and the female Southern Right decided to begin a couple of pec slaps of her own. A beautiful afternoon in Augusta with our whale watch of cetacean courtship behaviour a rare and wonderful opportunity to witness two different species within 100 meters of each other displaying the different and unique ways of their courtship pod dynamics.
-Whale Watch Western Australia
This post was adapted from a blog, read the original here