A Whale of a Day, Part 2

Yesterday I introduced the Alaskan Humpback Whales to you. Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s post, but featuring some fun behaviors that you can sometimes find with humpbacks.

In yesterday’s post, you will remember that the skies turned a very gray color, with lots of clouds, yielding a very “black-and-whitish” look to most of the humpback whale images. Back home in Missouri, we have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait 15 minutes and it will change!”. Well, Missouri has nothing on Alaska weather … as you can see from a lot of today’s images, the weather in Alaska can change just as fast, if not faster! Fortunately, that gave us some more bluish skies and waters to work with.

One of the behaviors we saw with the humpback whales on our first day out, was the “pectoral fin wave”. No one knows exactly why the whales do this, but it is speculated that this is just a playful event that the whales sometimes do. It is quite a sight to watch! Here are a few images of humpbacks waving their pectoral fins at us.

In this first photo, the whale is lying on his side, with it’s tail to the righthand side of the photo. It has just pulled one of it’s pectoral fins out of the water (note the water droplets as they fall from the fin that is brought overhead). There is also another, small humpback whale, just in front of this whale (you can see the “hump”, or dorsal fin, sticking out of the water:

 

Humpback Whale Slapping Pectoral Fin on Water

 

 

In this case, the whale didn’t really “slap” the water, as they often do, but was just playing around. In this next photo, you can still see the smaller humpback on the left, but also another humpback has surfaced and “spouted”:

 

Humpback Whale Slapping Pectoral Fin on Water

 

 

And as the skies opened up to give us brilliant colors again, we were blessed with this sight, not far from the boat:

 

Humpback Whale with Pectoral Fin out of water

 

 

Another behavior we saw was the “tail lob”. Tail lobbing is thought to be used mostly for stunning nearby fish … as the strong tail is struck against the water, it makes a very loud “bang” and the shock from the slap can cause nearby fish to be temporarily stunned, making them easy prey. Here are a few shots, from a sequence of many frames, that shows the tail lob.

First, the tail is brought high out of the water:

 

Humpback Whale Tail Lobbing

 

 

Then, it is quickly slapped down, hitting the water surface:

 

Humpback Whale Tail Lobbing

 

 

As the tail hits the water, water is thrown into the air:

 

Humpback Whale Tail Lobbing

 

 

But, as amazing as these activities were, we were all stunned at our next experience, something we were not expecting to see! I’ll share that experience with you in the next post :o)

 

 

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