On the afternoon of August 16, 2016, a young humpback whale, probably Fleuret’s calf, was surface feeding. Together with other observers, I had the unique opportunity of witnessing this fascinating scene!
She is the one who found us. It swam close to us and we could see it through the clear water, with its huge white pectoral fins extended like the wings of an aircraft.
Apparently busy with other matters, the whale zipped along without paying any attention to us. The dark water transformed into a rolling boil. The humpback performed various manoeuvres typical of this type of feeding: short dives, frequent returns to the surface, rolls onto one side with its mouth agape… we saw it all! Even the foul odour that accompanies this behaviour…
The whale was swimming around in large circles, which made it easier to anticipate its movements. The excitement on board our boat was palpable, as we never knew where the animal would reappear or what we would see. A dark, gigantic head adorned with tubercles containing vibrissae? A half-black, half-white tail? Long and graceful pectoral fins? For us, time had stopped… but our watches all too quickly indicated the opposite, signalling that the expedition was already drawing to a close. What an adventure!
Audrey Tawel-Thibert joined the GREMM team this year. As part of the photo-census program of large rorquals in the Marine Park, she collects photos and data on board tour boats. She also shares this information with the editorial team of Whales Online.