Competition Heats Up

Aloha,

Saturday’s morning Whale Watches were full of competiton. On our 8:00 Wake up with the Whales  Cruise from Anaeho’omalu Bay we paralleled a competitive pod of 5 or 6 humpbacks including Mom and her baby for an hour and 20 minutes. We saw them as we left the bay, and were able to stay with them till we got to Puako. These whales were so active we never were really sure exactly how many were in the pod. We saw lots of head lunges, peduncle throws and tail lobs from all the adult whales. Unfortunately, we had to turn back before we could see the resolution of the competition. On our 10:00 Signature Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we also got to watch a competitive pod including Mom and her baby. In this case, we were able to see the pod dissolve, as one of the males gave up, leaving Mom and baby with just a single escort. Before they broke up, we saw lots of shoving and pushing between the two males, and got to see a some lunging and head lifts too. And on our Whales and Cocktails Cruise, we had a repeat of the action we saw on Thursday’s Whales and Cocktails Cruise…LOTS of breaching from Mom, an Escort and baby. Baby seemed to be reacting to the adults around him, because he didn’t start breaching till after they finished, but once he started, he just didn’t want to stop!
On Sunday, we operated back to back to back cruises on Alala from Kawaihae Harbor. All day long we were seeing competitive pods, and pods of Mom/Baby usually accompanied by multiple escorts, but occasionally accompanied by just one escort. Highlights included head lunges and peduncle throws from competing males, lots of breaching (from the calves too), and both tail lobs and pec slaps. Whenever we dropped our hydrophone, we heard lots of singing over a range of distances (some loud, clear voices, and a lot of faint voices joining the choir too).
Mahalo,
Claire
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Recently, researchers studying singing male Humpbacks were able to determine that immature males do join mature humpbacks in singing. These researchers theorize that every voice is important as a means to attract females to the “arena” where the males have congregated. Since we know that the females don’t respond to an individual male’s song – it’s not like a songbird’s song, designed to attract a female and repel other males – the researchers theorize that the humpbacks’ songs are meant to attract females to the” arena.” And though the immature males don’t get to mate, they may benefit too by indirectly learning the songs and the social rules of mating.

All kinds of Surface Behavior

Aloha,

Hope you had a wonderful holiday yesterday…ours started off with a BANG! On our 8:00 Wake up With the Whales Cruise out of Anaeho’omalu Bay we got to watch a juvenile humpback breach 10 or 11 times (too exciting to keep track). Some of our guests got some great video — here’s hoping they share it with us, so we can share it with you!. And according to Captain Baker, there were whales everywhere, tail slapping, pec slapping, and peduncle throwing. He says “it was the direct opposite” of the day before! The rest of the day was spectacular too — we got to see the full gamut of surface behaviors, and more than once, Humpbacks decided that we were interesting enough to swing by and check us out!
Mahalo and have a great weekend. I’ll send out a weekend recap on Monday.
Claire
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: One of the questions we get asked most frequently on whale watches, is “Why are the whales doing that?” (and for “that”, you can substitute any whale behavior we see…breaches, head lunges, peduncle throws…etc). Since we really can’t ask the whales (well, we can ask, but they aren’t answering) we tend to interpret behavior based on what else is going on in the whales’ lives at that particular time. Humpbacks are in Hawaii to mate, calve, and take care of their babies. Aerial behaviors often result in big splashes which may be a great way for a whale to communicate size, status, location, excitement, aggression, irritation, or health to other whales (or to something/someone else he hears on the surface).

Whales and Dolphins Interact

Aloha,
On Tuesday’s Breakfast with the Whales we saw a LOT of breaching and most of it was within 100 yards! Of course we always stop our approach when we’re more than 100 yards away, but if the whales choose to come to us…Anyway, we also got to watch some pectoral slaps (which are really amazing to see, because a full-grown humpback has a 15 foot long pectoral fin (arm)). As we were watching all those whales breaching, a pod of Spinner Dolphins got involved in the action – and it appeared to us that the breaching Humpbacks were landing on top of the dolphins! Undoubtedly, that was more fun for us to watch than it was for the dolphins… On the 10:00 Trip, things quieted down a bit, but we still got a few close encounters and saw multiple breaches. On each trip, we deployed the hydrophone, but the sounds we heard were pretty faint. And on each trip we were able to see spouts and flukes from at least 15 different whales.
Mahalo,
Claire
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day:When we see a Humpback wave his pectoral fin, it looks really floppy — as if there were no bones inside it at all. But if you were to x-ray that fin, surprisingly, you’d find all the same bones and joints that we have in our arms — all the way down to the smallest digits of our fingers. Though according to researcher Spencer Wilkie Tinker, Humpbacks are missing what would be the third finger on a human.