We had a nice day of Whale Watching on Monday. We ran 3 different cruises but on the Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we had 3 close encounters with curious Humpbacks, and saw lots of Mom/Baby/Escort pods, some breaches and tail lobs fairly close by, and lots of surface activities creating big splashes within a mile or so of us. On this cruise, we deployed the hydrophone and heard something weird…no song! The reason we think this is strange is that generally, this time of year, the male Humpbacks in Hawaii are in a highly competitive state battling for access to the remaining receptive females. Since recent research on the meaning of the song in the Humpback culture seems to support the idea that it singing is a way for the males to sort out social status and relationships, the fact that we didn’t hear it during this crucial part of mating season really is odd. Of course, it could have just been a coincidence that the one time we had the hydrophone in the water, the males in the vicinity were too busy charging around on the surface to sing. We’ll drop the hydrophone again today and see if this was just a fluke!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: The smooth round flat spot we see on the water after a whale dives is called the “footprint”. Whalers thought it was caused by oil from the whale’s skin calming the surface of the water, but water samples have proven that theory to be false. When a whale dives (or kicks just below the surface) his flukes break the surface tension of the water and create a vertical wake, forming the footprint.