Nature's biggest battle

Female humpbacks come to the waters surrounding the islands of Tonga to find mates. Announcing her arrival, a large 50-year-old female slaps the waters to attract the attention of males in the area. As the males respond and gather around her, the female swims away compelling the suitors to follow. In her wake, the males jockey for postition, bellowing threats to each other and creating huge plumes of bubbles. Though relatively gentle at first, after hours of pursuit the males become more violent, smashing into one another. As the conflict reaches its climax, they force their opponents down into the depths. This is nature's most massive battle - rival males can kill one another. The victor will be the strongest and healthiest candidate for the female to mate with and will give her offspring a good chance of being stong too. The pair dives deep, but it's still not known where these enormous creatures actually mate.

Release date:


4 minutes


Role Contributor
NarratorDavid Attenborough
ProducerMartha Holmes
Executive ProducerMichael Gunton

This clip is from

Featured in...