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24     August: A Time of Socialising and Play

In the main it is young male and female whales who frequent the bay in August. They usually associate in small pods of two or three.

Typical of the energetic adolescent behaviour is chasing at high speed, pectoral fin slapping, tail fluke slapping, spy-hopping and breaching.

RIGHT: Often several smaller groups of young adults will come together to form a larger active group like the one here photographed passing the Expedition vessel in 1996. The high speed interaction of such groups is often interpreted as being sexual in motivation,

(Photo: Trish Franklin)

However in Hervey Bay we have frequently observed such behaviour being associated with opportunistic feeding and interactive play with pods of dolphin. While chasing the groups rarely take much interest in vessels and stay focussed on their interactions, after a time the activity will cease and they will separate again into pods of two or three. Seeking to identify if changes of individuals occur in pods during such exchanges is one focus of our research in Hervey Bay.

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