2013 04 03- male humpbacks duke it out over a female Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   
A male stops dead in its tracks and lifts its head out of the water to outmanouevre a challenger
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Left, the bloodied tubercles and splashguard to the blowhole of the escort are obvious evidence of the brutal battle. Right, a whale powers up to plunge below
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Above left the head of the escort rides on top of the head of a challenger. Right a whale lifts its head out of the fray
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Left, a whale opens its mouth wide to fill its pleated throat with water to add more bulk to his body. Above right the challenger closes in on the female, the escort in hot pursuit
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The water churned with several whales occupying the same piece of ocean real estate. For hours the whales fought. Above right the escort lifts its head out of the water as he steams forwards full speed
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Above left the escort pursues one of the challengers. Above right, a whale, mouth filled with water, raises its head before plunging on top of another whale
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Anytime the males showed signs of slacking off, the female egged them on by pec slapping. This was not unsolicited attention!
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The escort winds up his tail to slice it into the body of the whale next to him. At times it looked like two boxers duking it out in a ring, exchanging punches. Here two whales thrash each other with their flukes
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A whale rides on top of another. The heads of two whales as one rides over the top of another
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The escort pursues the most persistent of the challengers and coming head on at another whale. These are only a few of the photos taken of a 'rowdy' group that made what we have seen on the breeding grounds on the Silver Bank pale by comparison. Perhaps the colder water allowed these whales to exert themselves for a longer period. The primary escort managed to stay with the female but some time later there were still a couple of challengers shadowing him. It certainly appeared to be very serious pre-mating behaviour and we were in contact with these whales over some hours