Our weekend started out really fun — with Mom Humpback and her very playful calf. We
Mahalo to guest David Cotton for sharing this incredible photo from the March 6th Wake up With the Whales Cruise
found this duo just outside of Anaeho’omalu Bay on Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, and paralleled them for an hour and a half as they traveled north to Honoko’opae Bay (between the Hilton and the Mauna Lani). Baby was very interested in us, swimming around us and under us, and even breaching 5 or 6 times right next to the boat. We never did see Mom breach, but she let her baby explore us to his little heart’s content.
On Saturday’s 10:00 Cruise from Kawaihae, we also spent lots of time with a very active calf. Baby tail lobbed repetitively, and mom breached right near the boat. By our 3:00 Whales and Cocktails Cruise, the seas had come up a bit and though we were seeing a lot of different spouts, it was more difficult to get to them. Captain Mark found a competitive pod of 5 whales though, and we got to parallel them for quite awhile watching lots of lunges and shoving around. We heard lots of trumpeting from these guys, and a few times, saw their inflated throats as they lifted their heads.
On Sunday’s Whales and Cocktails, we started out with sightings of just the occasional spout and all these whales were pretty far away. Then we noticed 3 spouts together, and headed over to see Mom, baby and escort. We put the boat in idle when we were about 150 yards away from them to see what would happen. Baby decided to come over for a closer look, followed by Mom of course, and the escort. Baby breached multiple times just 10 feet from the boat, and Mom and the escort surfaced right next to us too. We got to see all three multiple times just below the surface on all sides of the boat, and at the surface too. Those three wore out all of us who were onboard as we went from bow to stern and port to starboard following them on the surface. On the way back to the bay we saw another Mom and her baby. They were accompanied by a couple of escorts…but unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop to watch them.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Before whaling was banned internationally, Humpback whales’ livers were processed for their oil, which contained a lot of vitamin A. A fully grown Humpback has a liver that weighs between 800 and 1400 pounds.
It’s kind of difficult to sum up this past weekend of Whale Watching Cruises. We ran a lot of trips, and we saw a wide variety of behaviors and lots and lots of whales on every cruise. Highlights included seeing 5 different Cow/Calf/Escort pods – including one pod that swam right under us in just 25 feet of water as we were returning to the bay on Friday’s Wake up with the Whales. We also got mugged by a baby, his mom and their escort on the 10:00 Whale Watch. On Friday’s Whales and Cocktails, we got to watch a chase ensue with 5 males and Mom and Baby. We weren’t sure if it was one of the males doing all the peduncle throwing and tail lobbing 100 yards from us, or if it was Mom expressing her displeasure at all the attention.At one point she turned towards the boat and led the whole pod right in front of our bow.
Though we went from two different locations and two different times on Saturday’s morning trips, guests saw very similar activities. Both Seasmoke and Alala were approached by very active calves. Seasmoke’s calf brought Mom and the Escort right over for a close encounter with our idling boat…and Alala’s calf decided multiple breaches were in order. Guests on both boats also saw multiple spouts, tail lobs and peduncle throws a bit further away.
On Sunday’s first Alala Cruise, we were so focused on watching a competitive pod of 5 Humpbacks chase each other around that we barely noticed any other whales (though I’m sure there were a lot in the area). We got to see breaches, head lunges and tail lobs from this group. We also had an extremely close encounter when two of the pod popped up right next to our idling boat, surprising us all. On the way back to the harbor, a very active calf breached and peduncle threw multiple times just about 100 yards from us. Driving away from that action was one of the hardest things we ever have to do…but right after we dropped the folks off from that whale watch, we turned around to take out a bunch of great people who were using the cruise as a fundraiser for the West Hawaii Clinic. We found our active baby again…and this time got to see Mom and an Escort. We also saw lots of other spouts, a couple of pec slaps, and even a few breaches. When we deployed the hydrophone, it sounded as if one whale was singing directly into our microphone.
Hope your weekend was as great as ours!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Though we’ve mentioned before that only male Humpback Whales “sing”, all Humpbacks make noises and use these sounds to communicate with each other. Researchers have witnessed cooperative feeding behaviors among the Humpbacks apparently “triggered” by sound, and have also witnessed Humpback Cows (moms) apparently ignoring some sounds made by their calves (researchers called these sounds “goo-goo, ga-ga” noises), but responding immediately when the calves made particular squealing noises. So it appears that Mom recognizes her baby’s voice!