This is part of a social unit, which you can think about as sort of like a family of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). Social units are not entirely equivalent to human families though. They are more similar to the social structure of elephants and orcas. Social units are matrilineal, meaning made up of females and their progeny, and there are no mature males in the groups. Big boys leave the units and fend for themselves.
I had the opportunity to get to know the whales in this photo over the course of several hours. In front is an adult female, quite likely the matriarch of this group. Among the whales in the background are three juveniles. Their natural curiosity and playfulness proved to be the key to having excellent interaction with this social unit. Once one of the young whales came over to check me out, the others simply couldn’t resist.
Also of interest, note the bone structure of the adult whale’s pectoral fin. See the resemblance to the structure of our hands?
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