2011 02 9 Mothers and calves on the Silver Bank off the north shore of Domincan Republic Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

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The humpbacks go to the warmer waters of the Caribbean to give birth to their calves. Many of the calves we saw were less than two weeks old and kept close to the protective ring of reefs on the northern edge of the Silver Bank.

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These mothers and their young calves avoid the males as the mothers concentrate on feeding their calves and exercising them. It's funny to watch these calves, about 12 feet long (compared to the pectoral fin of their mothers at 16-feet long) and to see them breaching. Some calves will breach dozens of times and then when they are tired and stop, the mother breaches beside her calf to egg it on. This is important for their survival because they need to build up their strength before their long migration north to their feeding grounds where they might encounter the orcas (killer whales) that predate on them.

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Above, while photographing a calf breaching, its mother breached right beside it and so for the first time I had the entire sequence of a breach, right to when the nose first breaks the surface of the water

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And just when you think the calf has tired out, he suddenly projects himself into the viewfinder!