Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pygmy Killer Whale Families

Continued from: Giant Deep Water Squid - Blainville's Beaked Whale Leftovers...

My sea sickness actually got worse by dealing with the slimy, stinky giant squid carcass underwater and on the boat later. Beaked whales are long-gone, so we kept moving.

On the way to our next way point, we found a pod of pygmy killer whales, Feresa attenuata. Again they are one of those species that we don't regularly see. With a luck, I see them up north during humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, season, so this would be the first time for me to see them down South.

We were lucky with the finding of the whale, but the weather and the condition of the water was getting bad. Strong wind started blow and clouds was covering the sky in a hurry.

Despite the worsening conditions, I gently slipped into the water. Soon after, I was greeted with a curious scouting whale. The pod was made of about 50 whales, and I saw many mother and calf combinations. It appeared a kindergarten pod. Some calves still had neonatal folds and looked fairly small.

pygmy killer whale, Feresa attenuata, scout with many scars and rake marks, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Mothers and calves didn't let me get close enough to make a seriously good picture, but they let me swim by their side, so I was able to observe some cute and cuddly activities between mothers and calves.

Baby pygmy killer whales were very playful and even breached a few times right in front of me. After I grabbed some profile shots (that was all I could get). I switched the position with my buddy while they were still playful because she has never swam with them before. Luckily she was also able to swim by them and observe them playing underwater.

two pairs of pygmy killer whale mother and calf, Feresa attenuata, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Oceana

We were able to track them for a while but the ocean condition got worse with gusty wind and dark clouds, and eventually the whales disappeared among dark choppy waves.

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