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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wildlife Photography - Humpback Whales in Maui, Day 4

Born To Be Wild

Happiness is learning to swim with Mom

The weather is just perfect. Light breeze with mild, sunny skies and calm waters. This is why Humpback mothers come to the waters around Maui to give birth and raise the calves. The water is comparatively shallow (about 400 feet) and usually free of predators. Occasionally, there may be a few Orcas and Tiger sharks but generally, they do not attack the calves.

The male Humpbacks come here for a totally different reason. They are looking to mate with receptive females and even cows with calves. The males will fight (not to the death) for the privilege to become either the future father or the escort for a mother and calf pair, with the furloin hope of mating with her.

The fights may start with just a few males and can attract others as it progresses. It is known as a competitive (comp) pod. The whales leaving the 'fight' is called the 'losers' and the ones coming in are the 'joiners'. They will lunge, head butt, tail slap and just bump their opponents as they try to follow the speeding female. She leads the pod in any direction as she pleases and they follow in hot pursuit.

The fight can lasts for hours or break up in minutes and the participants re-engaging at a later time. Once the female picks her mate or the escort has been determined, the former combatants are completely transformed into peaceful, non aggressive whales and even frolic with each other.

Visit my website to see many more photos from my previous photo shoots.

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