The day started sunny and clear on shore, but any fisherman or sailor will tell you that such conditions will never hold true at sea, and true enough, the fog rolled in as we chugged out for a three-hour tour...
The weather never got very rough, though, the tiny ship was never tossed, and we were able to make contact with three humpbacks not long after we arrived. Foggy, Flamingo, and Willow were just finishing up a show for two other boats when we got to them, and they quite happily continued cavorting for us as the other boats went back to shore.
They know our boats pose no threat to them, so they're comfortable having us around as they feed on the plankton and krill in the water. They come to the surface in gradually increasing arcs, filtering their feed fish through their teeth. They each make several leaps, gathering food, before making a final plunge to the bottom. They'll spend ten minutes or so on the bottom, then make their way to the surface and repeat the performance.
There are two ways for the marine biologists to identify each individual whale. All their tail markings are unique, so the patterns can act like human fingerprints, and the dorsal fins are distinctive from each other. In the top picture, for instance, the whale on the right, in the back, is Foggy, who has a serious hook. The tail above belongs to either Foggy or Willow.