Aloha, Our weekend of Whale Watching started out with a bang! On Friday’s 10:00 Cruise, guests got to watch not 1…not 2… but 3 competitive pods of 5 whales each all at the same time! There was way more head lunging, peduncle throwing, pec slapping and breaching going on than we could keep track of…and we pretty much all lost our voices shouting out encouragement to all these whales in their battles for dominance. On the 12:30 Cruise, the waters quieted down. We watched several whales all in one small area just spouting…and then…all of a sudden, we saw the smallest calf we had ever seen. This little guy’s dorsal fin was completely bent over (indicating a VERY recent birth). Mom had the little whale resting on her rostrum and was gently pushing him around on the surface heading towards shore. As Captain Will put it, “Absolutely Incredible”! On the Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we were watching a couple of adult whales but were all surprised when a calf popped up right off the bow of the boat. We could see mom under the water, but she never did surface near us. On Saturday’s Breakfast with the Whales Cruise, we saw 15 different whales including 3 Mom/Baby pods. One of the little calves was very energetic, breaching 3 times, pec slapping and tail lobbing. When we deployed the hydrophone, we did hear multiple voices, but none of the singers were very close. And on the 10:00 Cruise we watched Mom and Baby breaching (was she teaching him how or were they both communicating something important?). We also got to watch a small competitive pod doing pec slaps and tail lobs. By Sunday, the weather moved in so we only got to run the morning cruises – but at 10:00 am we were the object of curiosity for Mom and her Baby Humpback. They surfaced and dove next to us for 45 minutes…we even got spouted upon. We also saw some breaches in the distance, but we did get lucky when a different whale breached just a couple hundred yards from us. Mahalo, Claire
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: According to research conducted in Japan, the peak estrus period for Humpbacks (i.e. when females are in heat) overall, is between the end of January and the end of February, but the peak estrus period for females with a calf appears to be several weeks later. Our frequent observations of pods of Mom and Baby who are accompanied by an escort at this time of year seem to support the validity of these findings. Although, since many mature females without calves have left Hawaii already, perhaps it’s not the fact that the females with calves are in estrus that’s attracting the escorts, but just that these males are accompanying any female they can find.
Aloha, We ran 5 different Whale Watch Cruises on Thursday. Highlights included a very active pod of 3 on our 10:00 Whale Watch – mom, her baby, and an escort. The escort did multiple pec slaps, allowing us to really get an idea how big that pectoral fin actually is. Baby did his best to keep up with the adults as they moved pretty quickly down the coast. On the Private afternoon Whale Watch, we saw lots of different Humpbacks. They were mostly moving down the coast line, so we saw lots of spouts and lots of flukes. And on our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, the whales were pretty mellow. We saw lots of dorsal fins from the surfacing whales, allowing us a good view of the variation in size and shape of those fins. We also saw a lot of flukes as the whales began their longer deeper dives. When we deployed the hydrophone on this trip, we were able to hear many different voices, but none of the singers’ voices was distinct, leading us to believe that a lot of the activity was occurring further off shore. Mahalo and have a great weekend, Claire
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: In Sept. 2013, Dianne Nyad completed a record breaking 110 mile swim from Cuba to Florida – but in the Humpback world, that’s nothing. Migration between Alaska and Hawaii is around 3500 miles. But Humpbacks can swim even further than that. In 2001, a Norwegian tourist snapped a photo of a female Humpback in breeding grounds off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. When he found the photo again in 2010 and posted it, researchers were able to match the flukes to a photo they had taken of the SAME whale in breeding grounds off the coast of Brazil — which means she had swum more than 6000 miles! Researchers aren’t sure what motivated the whale to swim across the Atlantic– until this whale was identified in both places, it was assumed that Humpbacks only travelled across latitudes, not longitudes. Which just goes to show you…we still have a LOT to learn.