Humpback Whale Research Project #Bermuda +playlist

“I had spent 300 hours over ten weeks trying to film the migrating humpbacks underwater. It was the end of April and I didn’t have a minute of footage. And then I was in the water filming dolphins when this whale found me. The encounter was almost two hours long often within inches of the whale. It was also the first chance I had had to use my underwater housing and video camera. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was looking into the eyes of a very intelligent creature. It took me a week to sleep after the experience and a month to talk about the experience without becoming emotional. It is tragic that the Japanese whaling fleet is setting off this year to kill 50 endangered humpback whales, 50 fin whales and 935 minke whales in Antarctica in a whale sanctuary.”   – Andrew Stevenson

1. Humpback whales filmed up close and underwater in Bermuda. Underwater footage of a humpback whale fifteen miles off Bermuda.

2,3,4. Bermuda Whale Song. “This is the first part of a recording I made late April on Challenger Banks, fifteen miles offshore Bermuda. I believe this is one of the most beautiful recordings I have of a humpback whale, the sounds are very clear. We heard this whale through the hull of a 35-foot trawler with the engine idling, gear in neutral. The recording is with the engine off, the hydrophone about 30 feet down in 170 feet of water. We hear the humpbacks singing often in this exact location, especially at night when the singing seems to be non-stop. During the day the singing is sporadic but always there are whales milling around the singer. This to me does not seem like the breeding behaviour of humpback singing in the Caribbean or Hawaii and I wonder, despite the disbelief of marine scientists, whether this whale song attracts other whales to the singer. I have often witnessed humpbacks aggregating on the Challenger Bank with as many as 14 whales in close formation milling around for some hours. The behaviour is not the aggressive behaviour seen in the breeding grounds. I have also witnessed large groups of humpbacks move on a steady course and speed (5 knots) in a north east direction and again, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I wonder if the whales have aggregated into large protective groups to complete the migration up north and to run the gauntlet of orcas somewhere between here and their feeding grounds. Although orca attacks have rarely been witnessed on humpbacks in the North Atlantic, about a third of this population of humpbacks have orca scars on their flukes, dorsals and pectoral fins.”

5. Sounds of Humpback whales in Bermuda has all my video footage on “Where the Whales Sing”. Here is a track of the humpback sounds we can hear consistently off Bermuda as these whales migrate past us each spring from the Caribbean to the North Atlantic. At times the singing is 24 hours per day. Is it the males singing for other males as they do apparently in the warmer waters of the Caribbean? Or are these whales singing to other whales still migrating up from the Caribbean to signal their position in the shallows off Bermuda before continuing on their migration? Where we hear the singing the loudest is also where we see the most whale activity so there does seem to be a connection. Incidentally, most of the id matches Allied Whale has made (by matching our photographs of tail flukes) have been with whales photographed in Newfoundland.