Did we say the Humpback whales woke us up with their singing? Well, if that’s not enough to get us roused and play then they get a little more insistent by rubbing themselves against the hulls of the ships at anchor! While they didn’t do this to our boat, other people in the anchorage reported it happening to them. Tiffany was even startled one evening out on the deck while we were moored when a whale blew off the stern of the boat. It was pitch black and unfortunately we couldn’t see it. Our current captain never being one to pass up an opportunity to play with whales, we “volunteered” to help out a visiting whale research team by taking them out for the day. The fact that we benefited from being able to use their gear to listen to whale songs and track down the whales ourselves was purely coincidental.
We learned that the researches were primarily interested in pictures of the whales’ humps and the undersides of their tails.
For the humpback whales these are the equivalent of fingerprints and allow researchers to track movements of individual whales. Based on the research of previous years they have figured out that the Niuean whales are the same whales every year. They spend their summers eating in Antarctica and when they want to breed they come back to Niue. Which hey, fair enough. As places to breed go, this one’s pretty good.
The courting methods of the humpback whales were particularly interesting. All the males in an area sing the same whale song. Juveniles sing smaller parts while the adults sing the full song that lasts up to 30 minutes and changes every year. The ladies choose their mate based on who they think sings the song best. But really, objectively speaking, is picking a mate based on their voice box any more weird than basing the choice on one’s mate based on their looks or fashion sense?
We also got on the Niue national news for helping out the research team. Yet more demands made by the camera. Sigh…
Want more whales? Check out how close we got in Mexico by clicking on “Still walking on the wild side“
About the authors
Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures. If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at www.CoastGuardCouple.com!