When you take a whale-watching trip, you need to be lucky to observe a breaching session. To watch two such shows from two different humpbacks in a single afternoon is nothing less than a privilege.

On Wednesday, July 19, as I was carrying out some surveying and photo-identification for the Mingan Island Cetacean Study off the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, I followed the humpback whale H753 with its calf for about 3 nautical miles off of Gaspé Bay. The entire time, the calf was swimming ahead of its mother and breaching repeatedly. It made more than twenty jumps before it calmed down.

A few minutes later, much deeper in the bay, I observe a huge explosion on the water surface. It was another humpback – the adult H840 – who was engaging in the same antics. The latter carried out the full range of various leaps and flips that a humpback is capable of. This individual is an accomplished acrobat! Breaching and landing on its back or side, poking out its head to take a peak across the water surface (spyhopping), slapping the water with its pectoral fin and then with its tail (caudal fin). A complete show that lasted about twenty minutes! I was not the only one to attend, as there was a whale-watching boat on site and a few individuals were probably able to witness this display from the Forillon coast.

Here are a few photos.

Spray of water caused by H840
Spray of water caused by H840, on july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
 H753 Bad Chemistry with her calf
H753 Bad Chemistry with her calf, on july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 breaching
H840 breaching, on july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 fluking
H840 fluking, on july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 pec slapping
H840 pec slapping, on july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 pectoral slapping
H840 pectoral slapping, july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 spyhopping
H840 spyhopping, july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 tail slapping
H840 tail slapping, july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
H840 breaching
H840, july 19, 2017, sector Forillon © René Roy
Field Notes - 24/7/2017

René Roy

René Roy is an amateur cetologist who is passionate about the sea and whales; he resides in Pointe-au-Père, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region. For the past few years, he has undertaken photo-identification expeditions for the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), mainly in the Gaspé, with a research permit. He also volunteers for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network. More pictures can be seen on Facebook.

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