Epic humpback whale battle filmed by BBC crew

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London, October 24 (ANI): A BBC natural history crew has filmed the "humpback whale heat run", where 15m long, 40 tonne male whales fight it out to mate with even larger females.

According to a report by BBC News, the footage was recorded for the BBC natural history series Life.

During the first complete sequence of this behaviour ever captured, the male humpbacks swim at high speed behind the female, violently jostling for access.

Up to 40 males swim behind a single female at speeds of up to ten knots, each jostling to obtain a dominant position.

"It's the closest we're ever going to get to dinosaurs fighting. It's the largest battle in the animal kingdom and it feels like something out of Jurassic Park," said Life producer Dr Ted Oakes.

To film the whales' heat run, the Life team travelled to the southern Pacific waters around the archipelago of the Kingdom of Tonga.

"In order to capture the sequence we had to film from a helicopter, a boat and from underwater," said Dr Oakes.

"Each of those was really difficult, and we had to get them all together. It was a big challenge," he added.

When a female humpback comes into heat, she alerts males by making sounds, such as slapping the water surface. She may also release scent into the water to signal her status.

"The males all gather around the female, she hangs there, and then swims away. That's when it kicks off," said Dr Oakes.

"It is kind of like a gauntlet. She swims away at speed and the males then fight for pole position directly behind her tail," he added.

As they chase the female, the males escalate their conflict.

First they lift their bodies out of the water, slapping the bottom of their huge feeding pouches onto the surface. They also slap their long pectoral fins onto the water.

The males then vocalise loudly and blow bubbles underwater, a threat display among many marine mammals.

"When they blow these huge streams of bubbles, in this context it means there's going to be an almighty fight," said Dr Oakes.

The males then start colliding, hitting one another and even jumping out of the water and onto rivals.

Considering that each male humpback can weigh 40 tonnes, such collisions must hurt, according to Dr Oakes.

"It's a violent behaviour. So violent that there are records of males killing one another," he said. (ANI)

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