Humpback competitive group encounters are second only to Heat Runs in their intensity. Witnessing one, as the whales jostle and manoeuvre, is a similarly incredible experience you will never forget!
Competitive group encounters occur when one or more male humpback whale “challengers” decide to try to displace an incumbent escort. The basic objective of the challenger has very little to do with protecting the mother and calf. It’s about replacing the incumbent and being best positioned for sex when the mother decides she is ready!
Humpback Competitive Group Encounters – Force!
The challenger will try to force its presence upon the mother and make the incumbent escort abandon its hoped for liaison with her… If the challenger is aggressive enough and stronger than the incumbent escort. There may be a passive changing of the guard and the vanquished escort will retreat in to the blue.
But more likely there will be a competition between the challenger and the incumbent which is when the spectacle really begins as the mother tries to stay out of the fray and guard her calf while the two contestants battle it out.
The challenger and the incumbent use both brute force and cunning against each other. Often the challenger will try to force the mother and her away from the incumbent in the hope that concern for her calf will make her acquiesce.
Humpback Competitive Group Encounters – Bubbles!
The strategic use of a bubble curtain to confuse and disorientate their opponent is fascinating to watch. In the image below the incumbent has swam below the mother and the challenger. Then once in position it is blowing a bubble curtain at the challenger.
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