A group of whale watchers now has a whale of a tale to tell.
According to the Whale Watch Western Australia, one of its boats was recently steering around the waters of Flinders Bay in Augusta, Australia, when it came upon a mother humpback whale known as Spirit and her calf, Sunny.
The mother whale was being approached by several male humpbacks looking to mate.
“There are some erroneous opinions that humpback whales will abandon their calves which this footage explains why they will fight to the death to protect their young,” the group wrote about the video of the encounter, which was posted on YouTube. “The males do not wish to harm the calf at any stage but do want to mate with the mother and in the competition the calf can become separated which is fatal for the young calf.”
While the video shows only a part of the encounter, the whale watching group said the mother used the group’s boat as a shield from the suitors in an intense effort to protect her calf for more than 40 minutes. Spirit wasn’t alone in protecting her baby, though — a group of unexpected heroes came in to protect the young one from the aggressive males looking to mate.
“To everyone’s great surprise the bodyguards moved in as the local bottlenose dolphins raced towards the situation and surrounded mother and calf protectively. One of the dolphins was even sighted flashing their mouth wide and showing off his teeth towards the male humpback,” Whale Watch Western Australia added in the video description.
Thanks to the tenacity of Spirit, Sunny and their dolphin friends, the male whales eventually backed off, with only one male staying behind. The remaining suitor was more courteous to the mother whale and her calf after the other males departed.
“To have the privilege of seeing this interaction in Flinders Bay, Augusta, and being in a position to be accepted by the female humpback to assist in saving her calf from immediate danger is something we will always treasure and a true once in a lifetime experience,” Whale Watch Western Australia wrote of the experience. “Humpback whales are one of the most remarkable whales in the world and today was a perfect example why.”