Delicious, Nutritious Humpback Whale Milk


We started out our Wednesday with some excellent sightings on both Manu Iwa and Seasmoke for our Wake Up with the Whales Cruise. On Manu Iwa, we saw more than 20 Humpbacks within a mile from us, but many of them were much closer. We got to see a Mom and her baby unaccompanied by an escort. Baby breached a few times (probably burning off some of the energy he gains from drinking all that milk). We also saw a few HUGE (45 foot plus) whales — one of whom surfaced within 20 feet of us while we were idling with the hydrophone in the water. And speaking of the hydrophone — we heard a whole symphony when we deployed it today. While all this was going on, we also saw peduncle throws, and lots of pectoral slaps. Since Seasmoke departed at the same time from the same location, we decided to look for our “own” whales, and boy, did we find them! We watched a calf and his Mom for awhile, before another whale surfaced less than 100 feet from us. We actually didn’t know which way to look for a lot of the charter since there were whales everywhere! We saw lots of pec slaps, breaches, and peduncle throws, and also heard some pretty clear singing when we deployed our hydrophone.
On our 10:00 Cruise from Kawaihae, we found a Mom/Calf pod just north of the harbor. We watched them for awhile and got to see baby breach before we headed off to watch some of the other bigger whales we were seeing out a bit further. We came across a competitive pod of 5 whales who were doing their usual competitive aggressive behaviors — head lunging, peduncle throwing, and bubble blowing. At one point, they all passed within about 50 feet of our idling boat. On the way back to the harbor, we found our Mom and baby again. We stopped to watch baby breach 8 more times…but had to head back to the dock. As we left (which it was just killing us to do, but we had to get back), we watched baby continuing to breach over and over and over again.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Being mammals, Humpback Moms feed their calves milk. But Humpback milk isn’t just any old milk — it’s extremely rich with a fat content of approximately 50%! Human milk contains only about 4.5% fat. Supposedly, Humpback milk tastes like “sweetened cod liver oil” …but I don’t know that from experience!

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