When male and female humpbacks engage in courtship, they often become inquisitive. This amorous couple, for instance, approached the boat and stopped to gaze with wonder and curiosity at people floating in the water, with the male hovering in an affectionate, almost chivalrous manner above his counterpart.
This apparent curiosity lasted for nearly 45 minutes, which was in itself interesting. What made the experience stand out even more was what happened beforehand.
We first saw these whales traveling at high(!) speed, heading out to open ocean. I made several unsuccessful attempts to engage them. They simply sped by, leaving me in their wake.
I was ready to call it a day. The captain suggested I try one more time.
With reluctance (it's exhausting being smoked repetitively by whales in a hurry), I entered the water and swam as hard as I could for about 50m to reach their line of travel.
Again they sped past, but about 20m later, they screeched to a sudden stop, turned around, and came back to me (huffing and puffing for air, completely bewildered).
They swam directly underneath me, then pulled up vertically as you see here, staying completely still, just staring up at me. Go figure.
I called my friends into the water, and we spent the next 45 minutes gawking at this couple—definitely a male and female (I checked the relevant parts)—as they gazed back.
In the end, we left the whales and headed back to home base, leaving the betrothed to carry on with the important business of courtship. I like to think that this is the world's only whale wedding photo :)
This is a Limited Edition Collector's Print in a series of 50. Each print is numbered and chopped with my logo. Sizes listed are the dimensions of the printed image in inches (see FAQ for equivalent sizes in centimeters). There is an additional white border around the image to allow for framing. A complete list of image and paper sizes can be found in the FAQ.