Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A day of many sperm whales

After several more days off the water we were finally able to get back out again today. It turned out to be a great day for viewing sperm whales, as the whole day we had a large pod of at least 12 individuals (adults, juveniles, and calves) off our coastline. During our morning tour the pod spent a long time socialising at the surface. We saw a lot of spyhopping behaviour (this is when they lift their heads far out of the water as is shown in the above photograph of 2 adults and 1 very small calf). We were also able to observe a lot of grouping-up behaviour, with several individuals coming together and rolling around while making a lot of body contact (sperm whales are the most social of all the great whales, and touch is an important method of communication for them). Several individuals were also very curious about our presence, and on several occasions they came towards our boats to take a better look at us. The passengers on these boats were very lucky to have such a close encounter with the world's largest toothed predators.

Several sperm whales grouping-up together at the surface

Large sperm whale passing near one of our boats

2 sperm whales spyhopping close to our boat. On the front whale you can see the lower jaw (on the left side of the photograph) which is very narrow compared to the large bulbous oil-filled head. On the rear whale you can clearly see the large s-shaped single blowhole which is located on the front left of the forehead.

By the afternoon the sperm whales were still in the area, but their behaviour had changed from socialising, to diving and 'logging' at the surface in between dives. On this tour we were able to see several whales again, including a young calf that was left at the surface while it's mother was presumably on a dive. It goes to show that we never know what sort of sightings or behaviour we can expect to see on one of our tours. But this is the most exiting part of going and seeing these amazing animals in the wild.

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