What is a spy hop? A spy hop can be observed in many cetacean species as they lift themselves vertically upwards so their eyes are able to see above water level. It is a curious and exciting behaviour to witness and today we had the opportunity of meeting a beautiful young calf who completed a very enthusiastic spy hop. Departing the Gold Coast Broadwater on another magic winters morning we made our way out to the sighting grounds and first met a mother Humpback Whale and her brand new calf making their way north. A slow, steady pace ensured they were covering ground efficiently without burning through much energy as the calf enjoyed a piggyback ride on mums back. Wishing them well we approached our second pod to meet a male and female also travelling northbound and with much momentum. It appeared the escort pod were in a hurry and we soon found out why as a competition pod of three came barreling our way. Big, full body breaches from one of the males in an attempt to attract the female was spectacular to see. The pod were boisterous as they pushed past and the primary male escort did all he could to maintain his spot as the females first choice. A gentle afternoon sea breeze ruffled the waters surface as we made our way out and scanned carefully for our first sighting.
A tall, lofty exhalation appeared and as we approached we slowed to a crawl as we noticed our Humpback Whale was sleeping. Floating at the surface and completely at ease we could see that this was a logging (nickname for sleeping) whale and we smiled to see a tiny exhalation appear right alongside her. It was a mother taking the opportunity to rest with her newborn calf making the most of mums stillness by having a good feed of milk. The calf was feeding for over ten minutes and now that the little ones belly was full it was playtime! Launching into a flurry of surface activity the youngster practiced head lunges, breaching, tail slaps and a very high spy hop. It is always special to watch these young calves learning their language and practicing while getting better each and every time. Our second pod was yet another mother and calf but this time they had company as a male escort was travelling with them. Moving in towards the coastline they covered ground efficiently and the mother kept a close eye on her curious male companion who was very well behaved towards both mum and calf. A spy hop is just one of many behaviours observed in the Language of the Whales as it enables many cetacean species to have a better look at the world around them. A spy hop is frequently observed in the Bremer Bay Orca especially once a kill has been made as the family groups everyone back together again to ensure all can take part in the feast.