1986 Second Meeting with Talon 9/29/86 #2

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Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
Talon and her companion came over briefly to check us. We were able to determine that this one was Talon because we saw her white dorsal mark just before she dove, but we couldn't find enough distinguishing features to identify the other. The differences between the two back tails were very subtle, but Talon's left fluke tip had a heavier concentrations of barnacles on it than did the other's. It was a distinctions that couldn't be counted on over time because barnacles build up and drop off in ever changing patterns, but it was just enough in combination with her white dorsal mark to help us separate these two black tails for this one encounter. Talon's character shown through as well: she showed a bit more interest in the boat, coming closer and hanging out a bit longer. The other hung back, waiting for her to rejoin it. In this picture Talon dives right in front of the boat, just beneath the bowsprit.

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But Talon was obviously more interested in the other whale than she was in us and went back to flipper slapping, close and parallel to it. In this picture the mystery whale is lying on its side, its right flipper thwacking the water with a sharp report. You can see Talon's dorsal just beyond (click on the picture and you can see a larger version of this in flickr). Talon has just rejoined the mystery whale and is drifing slowly alongside while it slaps.

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Slowly Talon rolled onto her left side, and started to raise her right flipper in the air. I was having a hard time making sense of all these whale parts sticking out of the water, but I think both whales had their backs facing our direction so the near whale's belly was facing Talon's back. I have tried to label them in the big photos at flickr (click on this picture)

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During our first meeting with Talon I got a close up photo of her flipper and it was white, so I am pretty certain this is hers raising up to thwack the water. Most of the time the two whales were hitting the water with their flipper. They would slowly raise all 15 feet of heavy muscle bone and flesh, suspend it for a moment wobbling high in the air then let it drop heavily with a smack and huge splash. Once the flipper of the mystery whale hit Talon's side. It made a dull thud and we could see her flesh jiggle. She didn't seem to mind, she didn't startle or move away, just continued to lay there slapping her flipper against the water.

They continued this behavior for 10 or 15 minutes, great, slow gestures over and over, rolling over on their bellies once in a while to breathe then rolling back again to whap the water again.