Humpback whales in rare 'heat run' in Australia

"In this case it's a competition for the female to see which male is actually suitable to mate with. It seems in particular at this time of the year, the hormone levels are high in the males and so there is increased aggressive behavior towards each other," said Griffith University marine scientist and whale researcher Dr. Olaf Meynecke, who has spent the last 12 years researching the behavior and wellbeing of humpback whales.

"They were going in circles, and it actually attracted a number of dolphins as well because of all that vocalizing and the movement of the water, the dolphins found it quite entertaining."

He said normally humpback whales stay in smaller pods of two or three unless feeding, but this phenomenon can happen during their southern migration and mating period.

In this case he said the energy-intensive 'heat run' went on for at least three hours and even attracted some dolphins.

From about September, humpback whales return to Antarctica from the warmer northern waters where they raise their young.

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