Photos: Four Whales Fight Over Female

January 25, 2012

Whale researcher Andrew Stevenson captured photos of four male humpback whales fighting over a female on Monday [Jan.23], with the ocean love fest taking place approximately 25 miles off Bermuda in deep waters.

Mr Stevenson said it was the first time he has witnessed humpback mating behaviour entirely consistent with courting humpbacks he has observed numerous times in the Caribbean and Hawaii.

“This wasn’t the idle kind of ‘flirting’ we have seen in the past. This was the real, hardcore thing,” noted Mr Stevenson.

“The engine was turned off through most of this and the whales kept returning to the boat so that we were given front row seats. At times the boat rocked with the swell of water created by the upwelling from flukes of the whales fighting below us.

“I have no doubt that these whales were seriously attempting to mate with the female. The timing is right and if the female does mate, she would give birth some 11 months later,” said Mr Stevenson.

The male escort cuts off would-be suitors by ramming them:

Visible is the raw, pink tubercules on the whale’s jaw from head butting his opponents:

A sudden stop to whack a pursuer on the head with the fluke:

To gain the attention of the males, the female lay on her side or back and whacked the water with her pectoral fins:

Using the head to butt the fluke of the whale in front:

“These were all very large whales and the exertion was plain from the trumpeting and heavy breathing and the frequency with which they surfaced to breathe. This was mayhem with whales careening around avoiding or attacking one another,” said Mr Stevenson.

“Inexplicably, in the midst of this war off attrition, eight Cuvier beaked whales appeared in the midst of the humpbacks,” said Mr Stevenson.

“At first we thought they were dolphins riding the pressure wave of the humpbacks, such as we have witnessed before. On closer inspection we could see they were too big to be dolphins. These Cuviers were in the middle of the ocean. Why did they surface in the midst of dueling humpbacks? Curious?”

[Photos courtesy of]

Share via email

Read More About

Category: #Animal, All, Environment, Environment, Marine, Most Popular, News, Photos

Comments (18)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I gotta be me says:

    awesome! just awesome!

  2. observer says:

    Nature at work

  3. betty Rech says:

    beautiful love them

  4. Katrina M Smith says:

    These Photos are fantastic!! To be there capturing the Moment most have been Amazing!!

  5. Justice says:

    Incredible! Keep these kind of stories coming.

  6. Amazing sight says:

    WOW!!! Nature at its best. Absolutely wonderful captions of the whales.

  7. Awesome!! Great story and pictures, that must have been some sight.

  8. speachless says:

    that is speachless i saw a few whales for the first time ever when i was out fishing last sunday out the western blue cut

    • andrew says:

      Please let me know when you get these whales sightings so that we can log them and build up a database that then paints a more thorough picture of what the humpbacks are doing here. You can email me at or phone 77-SPOUT (777-7688). We keep records of all these sightings. Even better, get photographs, particularly of the underside of the fluke (tail) so that we can identify the whale through its unique black and white pigmentation.

  9. Casi says:

    Incredible ! Beautiful pictures. Wouldn’t this be something for our tourism “product”?

    • Freedom says:

      This certainly would be something for our tourism product rather then that dolphin prison in Dockyard… Anyone else agree?

  10. just sayin says:

    this is great stuff to capture!

  11. Pastor Syl says:

    Thank you Mr. Stevenson, for all your efforts with the Whale Project. You have already placed Bermuda on the map as a gathering place for whale pods with mothers and whale calves picking up protection before the journey North. Now we learn that this is also a mating ground.

    I agree that this is another possible tourism draw, but only if it is well monitored. The last thing the whales need is over-enthusiastic sight-seers who disturb or damage them. Also let’s keep a close watch for those who might want to harvest these endangered giants

    • andrew says:

      Good point and I wonder sometimes if all the attention I bring to the humpbacks in Bermuda may create unnecessary harassment of the whales. I agree that the whale watching industry warrants careful monitoring. Legislation has just been enacted last week to protect humpbacks from any ‘disturbance’ with a $25,000 fine and/or two year imprisonment for those who break this law.

  12. Wonderful says:

    WOW…. I really would like to see them one day. Where(by land only) and when is a good time and place to see them?

    • andrew says:

      Any day now when the winds are calm you might see them anywhere off our South Shore from St David’s to Gibbs Lighthouse. The main migration comes through the end of March through April and that is when it is most likely that you will see whales off our shores.

  13. cynthia hicks says:

    beautiful !!!!!

  14. Ray Davis says:

    I am sure that with a little searching, anyone could collect information from the relevant sources here in Australia on whale watching.
    By the way, this is the first time that I have read the replies and there were no barbs thrown. Congratulations youlot.