Friday, September 5, 2014

Baby "Breeches"

The middle of August we, along with several senior missionaries, took a whale watching cruise. 
Left to right - Holbrooks, Hamblin's, Sam (back row - captain and owner), van den Akker's, Woods, Sis Burbank (front row), Simone (back row behind Sister Burbank - originally from Italy, currently teaching Italian at University in New Zealand), Meyers, Nina (crew, back row between the Meyer's), Georgie (naturalist), and James (crew). In the very back are the crew. 

The original plan was to make this trip in September when the baby whales are a bit bigger and more playful, and the mama's aren't so protective. But, we heard Georgie (the naturalists on the boat, and who Garth and the kids met on their whale snorkeling trip in July, and instantly became good friends) was leaving for Sri Lanka the following week, so we decided to bump up our trip by a month. 
That's Georgie in the tan cap standing just left of center
It's actually a whale watching/snorkeling cruise by Deep Blue Dives, but senior missionaries can't snorkel with whales. That's something that will have to wait until just before we go home. But, some of the non-missionaries were able to jump in the water and get up close and personal with some whales.

Not being in the water didn't hamper the whale watching, however. What a trip! An entire day on the water watching whales.

We saw lots and lots of whales – some in the distance...

and some very, very close.... 

A mom and her calf got extremely close. At first they were quiet, just swimming along. 

Then the mama breached, as if to show the baby how to do it.
And then the baby breached. 

And then it was as if the baby said, “Man, this is FUN. Mama, look what I can do!!!” It breached maybe 15 times, one breach after another.

We even saw some bulls chasing a female. Poor thing. Female humpbacks sure put up with a lot just so they can procreate. It was interesting behavior to watch, however. Something I never thought I'd get to see. It just looks like a bunch of whales in the pictures, but it was definitely bulls chasing - aggressively chasing - a female.

The female is ahead of the males - to the far right case you were wondering.......the humpback whales in Tonga are part of the Southern Hemisphere humpbacks. They DO NOT go to Alaska to summer....they go to the Antarctic. Tonga, and other places in the South Pacific, are their summer grounds where they breed and have their babies, just as Hawaii and Mexico are the summer grounds for the Northern Hemisphere humpbacks. THOSE are the whales that go to Alaska for the summer. Whales in Tonga do the same things as whales in Hawaii....they breed, have babies...but they do not eat......there is no food for them. That is why they go to the Antarctic (and to Alaska for the Northern Hemisphere humpbacks) in the summers – the water isn't as cold as it is in the winters, and there's lots and LOTS of food. I bring this up ONLY because someone on our whale watching cruise, who was from North America, asked when the whales we would be seeing would travel to Alaska. Answer.....they don't! Just in case you were wondering the same thing. :)

On our way back, as if the whales knew we were leaving, several in the area waved good-bye to us. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

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