Whaleoilers to the rescue: Whale Watch needs a name for their sperm whale

Whale Watch Kaikōura wants help finding a newcomer to the canyon, sperm whale HL50, a better name.

I am sure that we Whaleoilers can come up with a great name but please let’s keep this clean.

I know a few Sperm Whale jokes myself that involve a submarine and seamen so please restrain yourselves.

A boisterous sperm whale with a tiny hole in his tail is making his mark in the waters off Kaikōura.

[…] The whale is known to marine scientists and researchers simply as HL50, however tourism operator Whale Watch thinks he deserves a better name – one that reflects his bullish personality, but also connects with local hapu, Ngāti Kuri.

Records show the male sperm whale has been calling into the rich feeding ground of the Hikurangi Trench, off the coast of Kaikōura, off and on since 2005, but this summer it looks as if he has decided to make himself at home.

Whale Watch marketing manager Alex Cuff said the whale, guessed to be about 25 to 35-years-old, had become more territorial, protecting his patch from some of the resident sperm whales and other smaller mammals.

“One of our tours saw him chase away a transient bull sperm whale much the same size as himself to defend his hunting territory,” Cuff said.

“What makes him so distinguishable are the markings on his fluke, with a very noticeable small hole on the left hand side.

[…] The bull whale had quickly risen in the popularity stakes becoming a firm favourite of the crew. He was even competing against “top guns”, Tutu and Tiaki, who had been living there for more than 20 years, Cuff said.

At nearly 15 metres long, HL50 has been propelling his huge body out of the water multiple times in spectacular displays of breaching, behaviour more typical of humpback whales than sperm whales.

“It’s a rare and beautiful sight to see a sperm whale manage such a  feat and a behaviour we don’t see often.

“During the same week we saw him tail slapping on the water’s surface for a good 10 minutes on a hot summer’s day.”

Cuff said the reasons sperm whales breached could be rivalry between males, or a warning of danger, a quick way to transmit information to other whales, or simply to help with digestion or to shed loose skin which might be irritating them.

“Spiralling their large bodies out of the water is an impressive feat , and one that takes a lot of energy,” Cuff said.

“Because sperm whales are deep diving mammals, their time on the surface is spent regaining their energy, resting and re-oxygenating for their next big dive.”

Suggest a name for the new kid on the block on Whale Watch Kaikōura’s Facebook page.

 – Kaikoura Star

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