|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Courtship rituals take place during the winter months, when the whales migrate toward the equator from their summer feeding grounds closer to the poles. Competition for a mate is usually fierce, and female whales as well as mother-calf dyads are frequently trailed by unrelated male whales dubbed escorts by researcher Louis Herman. Groups of two to twenty males typically gather around a single female and exhibit a variety of behaviours in order to establish dominance in what is known as a competitive group. The displays may last several hours, the group size may ebb and flow as unsuccessful males retreat and others arrive to try their luck. Techniques used include breaching, spy-hopping, lob-tailing, tail-slapping, flipper-slapping, charging and parrying. "Super pods" have been observed numbering more than 40 males, all vying for the same female. (M. Ferrari et. al)|
Whale song is assumed to have an important role in mate selection; however, scientists remain unsure whether the song is used between males in order to establish identity and dominance, between a male and a female as a mating call, or a mixture of the two. All these vocal and physical techniques have also been observed while not in the presence of potential mates. This indicates that they are probably important as a more general communication tool. Recent studies showed singing males attract other males. Scientists are extrapolating possibilities the singing may be a way to keep the migrating populations connected. (Ferrari, Nicklin, Darling, et al.) It has also been noted that the singing begins when the competition ends. Studies on this are ongoing. (www.whaletrust.com)
More about Humpback Whale
This photo is taken in Melchior Island in Antarctica. Original format.
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