Humpback whales usually follow a social policy along the lines of “this ocean ain’t big enough for the both of us.”
Generally solitary creatures, they may occasionally form groups, with maybe 20 whales in the pod, maximum.
So researchers have been baffled by recent humpback whale behavior, with multiple sightings of whale super-pods — massive groups of up to 200 whales all gathered together.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ken Findlay, lead author of a recently published paper detailing the unusual sightings.
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Although some people see it as another sign of the strange times we live in, it’s possible that this behavior is actually a return to normalcy.
Whaling reduced the humpback population by up to 90 percent. But since whaling was outlawed, the population has been growing rapidly.
“For the last few decades, suddenly they seem to have overcome some threshold and have begun to increase very fast,” said whale researcher Gísli Vikingsson.
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So maybe whales gathered in groups of no more than 20 not because they were shy, but simply because there weren’t any more whales in the area to join.
“It’s possible that the behavior was occurring but just not where it was visible,” Findlay says. “Because there were so few of them, we may not have seen it.”
Whales tend to gather where there is enough food to support the group. So there must be something about the conditions of the coast of South Africa that is attracting such large numbers of whales — a krill population boom, perhaps?
Others, however, have proposed more sinister motives for the gathering.
Roses are red Oceans are blue These humpback whales Are plotting a coup https://t.co/rUXw5RI4Tl
Whatever the reason, if a growing whale population is responsible for these new super-pods, it sounds like good news to us.