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Sunday, June 19, 2011


I often ask myself ‘what’s in a name?’ In fact that is what I like to write about, that and how the English language is used or sometimes misused.

I recently came across the name of one of the many whales that Wal and Trish Franklin, of the Oceania Project named and it took my fancy, Slaphappy. I had to delve a bit deeper and find out about this Slaphappy humpback whale as I know the word could mean punch-drunk and if you have seen male humpbacks fighting over the girls you would understand that they could possibly end up punch-drunk.

The word also means buoyantly or recklessly carefree or foolish – happy-go-lucky, which most of the young sub-adults appear to be. The sub-adults are the first of the migration to make their way into Hervey Bay from mid July until mid to late August. The mothers, calves and escorts are next to arrive then the bucks, the big boys bring up the rear of the migration.

Humpback whales reach puberty at 4 to 7 years old, and maturity at 15 years. I call the sub adult or prepubescent humpback ‘Nike’ whales as they appear to have no fear. They love to interact with the vessels and have a good look at the people on the vessels. So I can image a young sub-adult being recklessly carefree but never foolish! Trish confirmed that Slaphappy was a sub-adult female humpback whale.

It is only a matter of weeks now before the first of the southern migration humpback whale makes its appearance in Hervey Bay. Last Friday there was a whale sighted but we think it was bit lost and still on its northern migration. There are always exceptions to the rule! Just like in English!

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