It’s not uncommon to be whale watching in Maui and come upon a competition pod. This is when 2 or more males are vying for the opportunity to mate with a female humpback (mating has never been recorded by man). Often lasting hours, this competition consists of stronger males dominating weaker males with displays of aggression and force.
We’ve watched this many times off the coast of Maui, and once they came right up to the boat. After 1 particularly intense battle for superiority, we could see up close how they’d rubbed their tubercles until becoming bloody. (tubercles are the round bumps at the front of the head.). We watched in awe as 2 or more humpbacks would breach out of the water together and try to body slam eachother as they descended back to the surface. It was incredible! Here are a few photos of this activity on that day.
The funny part of this story is that after all this hoop-lah, the female snuck off as the remaining 4-5 males continued to battle. This time the victor would not be enjoying the spoils.