Harbingers — the final report of the season

We ran our final Whale Watch of the 2011/2012 season on Sunday. Guests aboard our 8:00 Breakfast with the Whales cruise were fortunate to see the harbinger for our 20012/2013 Whale Season…a female Humpback with her small calf. According to our onboard naturalist Angelica, Captain Scotty had to cruise all the way up to Kawaihae to find the whales (the trip departed from Anaeho’omalu) but seeing that little calf travelling quietly with Mom was a sweet experience for all aboard the trip.
All these new calves we’ve seen this season bode well for the future of the Humpback population in the North Pacific. According to research results released in 2008 by SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpback Whales in  the North Pacific – a research project involving more than 400 researchers in 10 countries)  there are approximately18,000 – 20,000 Humpbacks living in the North Pacific, with the population wintering in Hawaii seeing a 5.5% – 6% annual rate of increase since the early 1990’s.
We feel really lucky that we’ve been able to get a glimpse of the lives of these Humpbacks this winter, and we appreciate everything you’ve done to help Big Island visitors and residents experience these special moments too.
We want to send a Mahalo out to each of you who have made this season possible, a Mahalo to those of you who sent emails with questions and words of encouragement about these reports, and a special Mahalo to researcher Chris Gabriele who read each of my Humpback Whale Facts of the Day, and shared her knowledge of updated research results and techniques.
As we left our Humpback pod this morning, we were escorted by a big pod of Spinner Dolphins…another harbinger. But this time, it was a harbinger of our Summer Season Dolphin Watch Adventures (beginning this Tuesday).
Once again, Mahalo!
Captain Claire