Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A fighting mother and a calm calf..

Yesterday, we came across a mother, calf and escort on the first part of our trip, as we began to look at their behaviours all three seemed to be very calm and approachable.

As the boat was still approx 80m away, the mother made a huge turn and dove under the escort. She then came up under the escort and a huge fight between the two escalated. The calf sensing some danger, seemed lost and swam over to where we were on its own.

This becomes a very worrisome time, as 3 years prior a mother abandoned her calf to another boat, when a group of males distracted her away. There was a happy ending as operators banded together and returned the calf to its mother. (Not something anyone wants repeated here). Seeing as the calf had made a beeline to us, we felt sure that the mother would return and she suddenly appeared with the escort about 40m away and the calf returned to her.

However the fight was not over, the mother with the calf swimming just in front of her now, continued to ram and tail swipe the escort. This can be seen as a behaviour between males in the rowdy/heat runs, which occur in order for mating to happen. (See next post for more information).

We did not try and engage the whales any further, when behaviours such as these occur there is some inbalance between the natural escorting of the mother and calf. This was the first time I have seen a female attack and control an escort in such a manner.

Female and escort fighting
It was fascinating to watch from a distance and we left scratching our heads as to why the mother had reacted in such a way.........

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