Incredible drone footage shows the beauty and curiosity of humpback whales ... and just how tiny we are in comparison.
I have had the incredible fortune in my life of many encounters with cetaceans; growing up on the Pacific and living on a sailboat for a year proved to be rich in whales and dolphins. My humbled takeaway has always been that they are intelligent, playful, kind and exceedingly curious creatures. But I'm not a cetologist and somewhere in mind I've wondered, what if they're not being curious, but coming to tell us to go away?!
The breathtaking video below brought this to mind again; the trio of humpbacks circle and dive, breach and swoop. And by all appearances, they're just coming by to check things out and say hello. I know deep in my animal heart that this is true – that their visits to boats are borne from the spirit of inquiry and play – but even so, I was glad to read this snippet from a blog post by marine wildlife scientist Logan Pallin from Oregon State University:
For several more minutes this whale danced at the surface around our boat, often times raising her large pectoral fins out of the water and bringing them down in a swift slap across the water’s surface. Lastly, she swam just within arms length of the stern of our zodiac and then proceeded to roll on her back and lay under us, showing us the extent of her white belly, pectoral fins, and fluke. We finally then collected our sample and drove off, leaving this curious and playful little humpback to engage her curiosity among the other wonders of this Antarctic environment.
This encounter, even when at times had Erin and I a bit nervous, really allowed us to experience the curiosity of these animals. Moreover, we witnessed the extreme finesse, care, and awareness that these animals have over their huge extremities. Never once was the boat bumped or jostled. These are in fact amazingly intelligent and beautiful creatures.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Well, especially since I'm not a marine biologist, but still.
You can see all of this inplay in the video here, which was taken by drone during a sea trip in the South Pacific off of New Caledonia; grace and play ... and curiosity ... ensue!