We ran a lot of Whale Watch Cruises this weekend — too many to recap all of them, so here are some highlights.Our weekend started off with a lot of action. On our Friday Wake-up With the Whales, just as we were leaving the bay, we saw a huge splash. Of course we kept watching…and got to see a whale breach 15 times in a row — not sure how he mustered the energy to do that! We also saw lots of spouts from nearby Humpbacks, and got some good tail shots, as these whales lifted their flukes to dive. On the 10:00 Whale Watch, we got to see spouts from 10 different whales…most were in pods of two. We saw some breaches (but none as close as what we got to see on the first trip).
On Saturday’s Wake up with the Whales we saw about 12 different whales. One of them breached 6 times about 200 yards from us. We also saw a Mom/Calf pair who were resting quietly on the surface for about 5 minutes. And then, out of nowhere, a big adult surfaced right next to the boat, surprising us all.
And on Sunday’s Wake up with the Whales, we saw 8 different Humpbacks (all adults). We got to see a wide variety of surface action too, including pec slaps, peduncle throws, head lunges and even a couple of breaches.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: According to the experts at NOAA, in 1966 when commercial whaling was finally banned, the Humpback population in the North Pacific was estimated to be fewer than 1400 individuals.
The wind just hasn’t quit in Waikoloa, so we ran our Tuesday trips out of Honokohau Harbor (which is just south of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary waters). On our 10:00 trip we saw two whales, mostly spouting and sounding. But the Whales and Cocktails cruise started with a bang. Just as we left the harbor, we found a very excited calf who must have breached about 30 times (who can keep count when there’s that much to see??!!). We stayed with this little guy (who we named “Eddie”) and his mom (who we named “Cindy Lou”) and their escort for the entire trip — well, actually, they stayed with us. Mom didn’t seem to mind at all that we were there, and in fact, at one point she brought Little Eddie right over to check out the boat. We all couldn’t believe how active this little guy was..After doing multiple somersaults and waving his little pectoral fins in the air, Little Eddie seemed to decide that laying on his side and watching us watch him was an interesting way to spend his Tuesday afternoon.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: 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 approximately 18,000 – 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.