We got really lucky yesterday when a mother and calf pair of humpbacks decided to approach our boat. After shutting down the engines so the animals could move safely around the boat, the pair lounged right in front of us, not going anywhere fast. We identified the pair as Slate and her new calf (pictured here)! Calves are incredibly important in humpback population studies. Not only do they add a new member to the population, but they can be important identifiers of the sex of mother. Before having this calf, Slate had not been identified as male or female. As fathers do not partake in the rearing of the calf, if an adult is seen traveling with a calf, we know it’s a female. Since Slate was seen with this calf, we now know she is a female! Other than calves, only looks at the underside of the whale can reveal its sex. By either directly observing the genitals or by spotting the hemispherical lobe, an odd bump on the underside of a female with some unknown function, we can also sex a whale if we are lucky. What would you name this little calf?
Qantaqa is ready for her closeups
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