Cavorting Calves All Weekend Long

We saw way too much this past weekend to recap all of it…so here’s a few highlights. On Friday’s Breakfast with the Whales, we saw 23 different whales, but really enjoyed watching a pod of 3 who seemed to be rolling around on top of each other. These whales came up vertically out of the water belly-to-belly a couple of times and though we didn’t see their eyes, the posture was very much like a spy hop. They also twisted and turned on the surface, and one of them pec slapped 13 times (we know that because one of our second-grade age guests kept the count for all of us). This whale also did a few complete roll-overs at the surface slapping each of his pec fins as he twisted. On the Alala on Friday, we ran two trips and saw 15 whales the first time, and 20 the second. The highlight of each of those trips was the close encounters with pods of Mom/Baby/Escort who decided to swim under our boat to check us out!
Saturday’s Whale Watches were much the same, with lots of energetic calves playing all around us. One of our favorite moments was watching a calf literally rolling around on top of Mom’s rostrum, slapping his pectoral fins (in delight?). We also loved watching a very young calf (with a completely bent over dorsal fin) attempting a couple of breaches and head lunges. We also had a couple of very close encounters with Mom/Baby/Escort pods. Each time, the baby seemed to lead the way over to us, and each time Mom actually kept herself between the baby and the escort, allowing baby to surface nearer to us. And on the Whales and Cocktails, we saw 25 different whales – no competitive pods, but plenty of Mom/Baby/Escort pods. We saw 20 adult breaches on this trip and 16 calf breaches along with lots of head lunges and tail lobs.
On Sunday’s Breakfast with the Whales, we saw 18 different Humpbacks and had an extremely close encounter with  a curious Humpback who swam around the boat a few times to take a look at us. And we ended the weekend with an adult Humpback breach about 70 yards from the boat. We also got to watch a baby breach over, and over, and over again…and to top it all off…we got mugged by another curious calf and her Mom.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: According to research reported by the Keiki Kohola project, very young calves (identified by the extent to which their fins are still furled from their time in utero) are much more active than older calves, swimming and twirling and kicking. These researchers theorize that all that exercise leads to the production of a necessary oxygen storing protein called “myoglobin”  in the whales’ muscles. One of the reasons adult humpbacks can hold their breath for 45 minutes is that they can store oxygen in their muscles (not just their lungs), and baby is training to be able to do that too.