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It's July First, and the Humpbacks are here for food and sex!

Well, we have seen a bunch of tail slapping and sky-hopping today, and that means that the Humpback Whale migration has arrived at our doorstep for fun and reproduction!

A couple of our guests were entertained two weeks ago in Puerto Lopez, as their fishing boat was the object of attention of playful whales getting ready to get ready.   If you are standing next to the captain of your fishing boat,  and the whole boat rises out of the water and then sort of slides aft, it is reassuring to have him say "Don't worry, that's just the whales scratching their backs on the bottom of the boat!"  Shades of Moby Dick!!!

Last year, we saw our first spouts on July 7...so we are earlier this year.  The four adults we saw, while having morning coffee, were playful and appeared to be more interested in food than sex.  Some dancing and tail slapping, but much more underwater swimming and eating...

(Please note:  we did not take these photos--they are for you to see just how magnificant these creatures are...)

Here is a migration map that will show how it all works:  Yellow ovals are breeding grounds and Ocra ovals are summer feeding grounds...

The following website, which we used, gives you a little more of the story...

Studies have shown that Southern Pacific Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) from the southern polar water feeding areas of Tierra del Fuego (especially the Magellan Strait, Chile) andAntarctic Peninsula (particularly Gerlache and Bransfield Straits) up to the tropical and sub-tropical waters of Ecuador to mate and give birth.

This breeding period occurs off the coastal waters of Ecuador between June and September each year.

Although these magnificent giants of the ocean can be spotted in the Galapagos Islands (predominantly off the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina), one has a better opportunity to get up close in the waters off mainland Ecuador (mainly concentrated from Manta down to Salinas).

Within the last ten years, a small whalewatching industry has developed in the fishing village of Puerto Lopez. Machalilla National Park remains the center zone.

We know these areas are important for successful reproduction. However the factors which influence the choice of these areas are still poorly understood [SourceMigratory movements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) between Machalilla National Park, Ecuador and Southeast Pacific]

Courtship - Competition is usually fierce, during which groups of two to twenty males gather around a single female and exhibit a variety of behaviors over several hours to establish dominance of what is known as a competitive group.

Characteristic behaviors include breaching, spyhoppinglob-tailingtail-slapping, fin-slapping, peduncle throws, charging and parrying. These are the wonderful sights that whale watchers get to enjoy off the coast of Ecuador. Less common “super pods” may number more than 40 males, all vying for the same female.

It's not all good news however--Humpback whales now only comprise 2 percent of their original population--they might be showing a slight comeback, but there is not much of a reserve...

Just so you know...Rox and I used to see cavorting dolphins every year right off of our beach--we have not seen one in over three years!


Posted on Mon, July 1, 2013 at 01:43PM by Registered CommenterBob & Roxanne | CommentsPost a Comment

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