You Do Not Want to Sex Up a Humpback

24 Oct

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Unless you like to run around the Kingdom of Tonga battling angry 40 tonne monsters in heat.

Cameraman Mr Roger Munns filmed most of the underwater footage of the heat run for the BBC.

Mr Munns had to freedive whilst holding his breath to get shots of the whales swimming past him at speed, as the use of scuba tanks would disturb the humpbacks.

“We had to find the whales when they are on the heat run, which is hard,” says Dr Oakes.

“Then we had to position the diving team in front of the charging pack of whales for them to have any chance.”

“At one point I think Roger had the female and seven or eight males go past him. He said it was the most incredible experience of his life. Like standing in the middle of a motorway.”

And this is why I watch the BBC.

On a related note, if your stomach can handle it, watch The Cove:


Posted by on October 24, 2009 in Life, Movies, Newsmakers, Video


15 responses to “You Do Not Want to Sex Up a Humpback

  1. memsaab

    October 24, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    One of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen was a pod of humpbacks “breaching”—coming out of the water vertically, twisting, and going back down. They were huge, but so graceful…will never forget it. They also swam right up and under the boat, looking at us as they went by. Just awesome. As awesome as seeing Shammi in person. Srsly.

    • U-U

      November 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

      memsaab, looks like we here in the West Coast now have Great Whites among us. An 8-year tagging study of migratory patterns seems to have followed five or six Whites to the SF Bay — yet another reason to make that trip to norcal, Amrita. 🙂

  2. Ula Ula

    October 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Oh I’m with you on the underwater love! Used to never miss “Secrets of the Sea” on DD, Sunday mornings. The BBC bit on humpbacks is as astonishingly beautiful as The Cove is gut-wrenchingly dismal (but both are a must-watch).

    “Humpback whales are renowned for their extraordinary and complex songs, performed by males during courtship. These songs can last for hours…” says that article… It reminded me of something I’d read about Australian Zebra Finches. The red-beaked male bird is endowed with special singing skills (the female can only listen, not sing) and he simultaneously sings in two separate frequencies — one, a social communication with other males, and the other, a special courtship song that only the female follows, its significance apparently lost on the males… I mean, wow!

    All this makes me wanna re-read DH Lawrence’s fabulous poems on animal love, collected in “Birds, Beasts and Flowers.” (I may have mentioned “Tortoise Shout” earlier — it’s one of six sensual poems he wrote on tortoises tootsy-ing.)

  3. U-U

    October 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Amrita, who the heck is this “other” Ula Ula, above? So utterly cheap that s/he should slander me by impersonating then copy/pasting my comment and passing it off to promote her g-spot url or something — I have nothing to do with it whatsoever!! Help. 😦

    • U-U

      October 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

      Malo ‘aupito (that’s thank you very much, in Tongan) for removing that spammer’s comment! Phew. 🙂 (What to do? The title of this post is veritable spam magnet, not that you haven’t faced this problem before.)

  4. Amrita

    October 28, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Memsaab – it’s the one thing I want to do very badly: watch a whale from close up. Never got to Northern california but will one day! Dolphins I’ve seen and love. God, they’re such magnificent animals. I could watch those documentaries for hours.

    U-U – I have to look up that Lawrence collection! I wonder what gay Australian zebra finches do?

    • U-U

      October 28, 2009 at 1:31 pm

      Well, I doubt that there’s any such thing as “gay” in the animal (arachnid or insect) kingdom — it seems to me to be the prerogative of us humans (oh I’m sure some scientist out there is gonna come bulldoze me with research data arguing against my perception, but until then). So with birds, I think, courtship is blissfully devoid of all the psychological complexities that cause relationship-building to reek of rocket science.

      The males signal. The female picks the frequency that prickles her fancy at that given moment. The two of them get together with just *one* thing on their bird brains (God bless them) — procreation! Us hedonistic humans, otoh, think way too much. We happen to have pleasure (physical, emotional, spiritual… in every other stripe and shade) — NOT progeny — foremost on our minds when we think Sex. Sigh. Sometimes, all it takes to simplify life is a bird brain. 😀

      • sachita

        October 31, 2009 at 10:36 pm

        🙂 coincidence, just yesterday, when i was wiking up our ancestors:), I found this “”

        • U-U

          November 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

          Wow, we actually have a cabal of particularly prurient ancestors to pin the blame on, for all our permissiveness? (What do they say about the apple not falling far from the (family) tree) Way to go. 😀

          • U-U

            November 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm

            p.s: Btw, my fellow bonobo-fans, here’s some (r)evolutionary update on the “double-crossing” kind, thanks to last night’s (season 3) episode 6 of (the CBS TV show) The Big Bang Theory (how ironic, I know!) titled The Cornhusker’s Vortex.

            In case the link has expired, here are Sheldon-the-self-confessed-genius’ words of enlightenment (time stamp 3:57): “A female bonobo will copulate with a new male in front of the old one, without so much as a how do you do.” 😛

    • memsaab

      October 31, 2009 at 10:32 am

      Amrita, we have humpbacks up here in the northeastern US as well 🙂 I saw mine off the coast of Massachusetts. Come visit me, I’ll take you whale-watching!

      • pitu

        October 31, 2009 at 1:45 pm

        I went whale-watching in Alaska and didn’t see a thing, not even a rock that could be passed off as a whale baby :-p All I did was puke my guys out and turn a shade of green and guzzle Gatorade to rehydrate. Made me very grumpy, it did!

  5. pitu

    October 31, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I meant ‘puke my GUTS out’ 🙂

  6. Amrita

    November 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    UU – but what about the gay penguins?!

    Sachita – bonobos are clearly my kind of chimp! 😀

    Memsaab – clearly i must!

    Pitu – I understood what you did! 😀 I’m surprisingly good on boats. “surprisingly” because i have hazaar nakhre about everything otherwise.

    • U-U

      November 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      Gay penguins? Seriously? Oh damn, I missed all the subtext in Happy Feet then!

      For instance, Ramon’s foreplay-like wordplay with the leopard seal: Seal says, “Come here, sausage. I take you with ketchup!” and Ramon retorts, “Yeah, but first you gotta catch up!”… then goes on to “beg” seal to kiss his butt (“Kiss my frozen tushy! Kiss it, kiss it!”).

      And there’s this Raul-Ramon bit where Raul — remember the too-cool Latino penguin that croons the sexy Spanish interlude in this song? — “slobbers” all over Ramon repeating “You the man, you the man” and the latter shushes him with “That’s enough! I feel the love.”

      There were a ton of boring stretches in the movie, but the few fun moments more than made up for the sins, I thought. 😀

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