As I watched this grey whale calf play in a cove yesterday evening, I got the feeling that it was practicing its moves. For example, in yesterday’s post (“Watch the Birdie,” 03.17.15) the whale is lunging out of the water, and I watched it do this several times, but it never did a full-on breech.
Likewise, I watched it spyhop several times, but it never came up out of the water far enough to actually look over the surface of the ocean. It came up very, very slowly–over perhaps 10 seconds, to the height in the image above, hovered there for about five seconds, and then very, very slowly sank straight down again.
It really seemed to me that the calf was trying out these new maneuvers, and they weren’t yet second nature to it. I imagine there’s a learning curve to whale ballet, and while the adults seem to perform it quite effortlessly, maybe the young ones’ muscles aren’t developed enough, and/or their coordination is still lacking.
If you’re reading this and you know more about whale behavior than I do, I welcome your comments. I still have much to learn.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to shameless anthropomorphize until someone sets me straight!