1986 Second meeting with Talon 9/29/86 #3

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Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
We seemed to get Talon's attention when we started our engines to head for home. She dove, leaving her companion and came steaming over to us. Could it be she was tired of being whacked on the side by that big flipper? Or was she just distracted by the sound of the engine? I often wondered what our boat sounded like to the whales, and if they could distinguish it from other boats.

I had noticed these same scars on her back when we met her in June and wondered what could have caused them. There are very few sharp edges on a baleen whale; no teeth or claws. Most of the injury they might cause each other was with a powerful slamming tail or flipper, which would bruise not scratch. But there is a knob on the leading edge of the lower jaw of humpbacks and sometimes barnacles attach themselves to the protrusion. Perhaps another whale scraped her with this scratchy lump.

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She did not make an effort to interact with us, just came breezing by quite close to us, giving us a good view of her identifying mark.

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As we moved off she raised her tail high in a deep dive. When I looked back, back I saw that she had rejoined her companion.

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Soon she would be making the long trip to the Banks north of the Dominican Republic where Humpback whales go to mate and calve. They start arriving there in late December and it takes a month or two to complete the trip from the Gulf of Maine to the Caribbean, meaning they must leave the northern waters sometime in early November. Since they do very little feeding on their way down, while they are there and on their way back they need to build up their fat stores as much as they can during September and October.

Talon certainly looked energetic and healthy, perhaps she could afford leisure time to socialize. We went out for a couple more weeks, but didn't come upon her again that year. We saw her again the next June with her first calf and so realized that during these two 1986 sighting she had been pregnant!