Our weekend of Whale Watching was a lot of fun. On Friday’s 10:00 Whale Watch we saw a pod of 3 whales. Two of them definitely were Mom and Baby, and the third was maybe an escort, but we couldn’t be sure. At one point each of the whales breached, so we saw 3 breaches in total. When we deployed our hydrophone, we were able to pick up one very faint song. We also saw a HUGE pod of spinner dolphins — maybe 200 or 300 of them (it’s hard to count when the pod is so big). On our 10:00 Whale Watch on Saturday we headed North until we encountered a pod of 4 Humpbacks, surrounded by a pod of Melon Head Whales. They, in turn, were accompanied by 3 Pelagic White Tip Sharks. The Humpbacks, Melon Heads and Sharks all hung around us for almost 30 minutes — just about 15 feet away. It was really fun (especially since those deep water sharks didn’t need to be near the surface to breathe…we hardly ever get to see them). And to top it off, we were escorted back to the harbor by a pod of Spinner Dolphins. On our Sunday 8:00 Breakfast with the Whales, we did find a Humpback, but all we saw was a spout and a quick dive, so we called it a “fluke” and invited our guests to come back with us another trip for free. On our 10:00 Whale Watch, we didn’t see any Humpbacks, but we did see that huge pod of Spinner Dolphins again. They put on quite the show for us, leaping, spinning, and bow riding, but since we were out looking for Humpbacks, we called that trip a fluke too, and offered our guests another chance to see the Humpbacks for free.
Don’t miss out on the last week of Whale Watching during our 2011/2012 season. Call 886-6666 ext. 103 or visit www.hawaiioceansports.com to reserve your adventure today!
Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: In August 2008, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) changed the status of the Humpback Whale from “Vulnerable” to “Least Concern” reflecting the general upward trend of population levels. According to IUCN standards, animal populations in the “Least Concern” category are at a low risk for extinction. The IUCN classifies the status of Humans in the same category.
The past few days have been interesting ones for us on the water. Besides the winds we encountered off and on throughout the weekend, we did encounter lots of whales…and they weren’t all Humpbacks! On Friday, guests aboard Seasmoke were amazed to see a pod of Melon Head Whales. These small toothed whales look a lot like really big dolphins, growing to about 9 feet long and weighing in at around 200 pounds with huge foreheads (thus the name) adorned by a black mask. They travel in pods ranging from about 100 animals to almost 1000, feeding on squid and small fish and though they’re permanent residents around the islands, we hardly ever see them.
Guests on Saturday’s Breakfast with the Whales Cruise got to see a huge pod of Spinner Dolphins. Known for their aerial behavior, these animals seem to enjoy interacting with our boats…surfing on the pressure waves the boat creates as we drive along the coast….and of course we did see lots of Humpbacks. On that same trip we saw at least 6 different whales, and twice had them approach our boat within about 40 yards (we stay 100 yards away from them, but they can choose to approach us if they want)! On the 10:00 Whale Watch on Alala from Kawaihae, we saw 6 whales…and several tail slaps. Sunday brought more Humpback sightings…lots of spouts and a few sounding dives complete with fluke shots.And on our Christmas Whales & Cocktails trip, we paralleled a competitive pod of 3 whales for most of the trip, even witnessing a couple of head lunges! When we did get to deploy the hydrophone on Friday and Saturday, we heard faint singing….
Which brings us to our Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: On Friday, I mentioned that we believed Humpbacks didn’t sing their distinctive songs during the times they spend in higher latitudes while feeding. Researcher Chris Gabriele was quick to send me a link to a paper he co-wrote, documenting the songs sung by a few male whales in Alaska. According to his research, the whales do sing sporadically in late summer and fall, corresponding with the beginning of seasonal hormonal activity in the males prior to their migration. Mahalo Chris, for helping to reveal another clue to explain this complex behavior!
Join Ocean Sports on any of our 3 Whale Watches departing daily from 2 different locations within the Hawaii Islands National Humpback Marine Sanctuary. Call us at (808)886-6666 ext 103
or visit hawaiioceansports.com