It was a calm day on the water on Thursday, and the whales seemed to be enjoying the peaceful seas after Wednesday’s wild winds. Guests aboard our Wake up With the Whales on Seasmoke got to see a LOT of whales. In fact, towards the end of the cruise, I asked everyone how many different whales they thought we actually saw, and all we could agree on was that it was a “bunch”! Most of the whales were just surfacing and breathing before diving again, but we did get to watch the formation of a competitive pod. At first we were just watching 3 humpbacks swimming together, but when a fourth whale joined the pod, the action got a little more intense. They all started swimming much faster, and at one point, one of them lifted his head out of the water and we could clearly see that he was inflating his mouth (for a Humpback, “bigger” equals “tougher”). We also saw several breaches and tail lobs a bit further away.
At 11:00, we took two school groups out for a Whale Watch on Seasmoke — about half of them were 4th graders from Kona Pacific Public Charter School with a few of their teachers and parents, and the other half were visiting 9h graders from a private school in Connecticut. The kids asked some great questions, and got to view some great action too. We spent a good amount of time watching a Mom/Baby/Escort pod. The escort was substantially bigger than Mom (probably older). For quite a long time, the baby alternated between lying on Mom’s head, and diving down below her (nursing maybe?). We also heard some great sounds when we deployed the hydrophone — lots of submerged singers fairly close by. We saw some breaching, pec slapping and tail lobbing from other adult humpbacks in the distance.
Alala also ran two morning cruises and the boat was “mugged” both times by the SAME Mom/Baby/Escort pod who spent considerable time right under and on the surface – right next to the boat – and below the boat! Fantastic!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Research suggests that most Humpbacks who come to Hawaii don’t’ spend the entire winter with us. An average stay lasts between a month and 6 weeks. Possible exceptions to this rule include dominant males, who may spend more time here to optimize mating opportunities, and females who give birth after arriving in Hawaii. They might spend a little longer here so that their calves can grow large enough to successfully swim back to Alaska.