Humpback Migratory Changes

After searching and searching and searching, we finally found one whale just outside of the harbor on Thursday’s 10:00 am Whale Watch. We did find it kind of ironic that we drove all over the place looking for Humpbacks only to find one right where we started! It was a totally different story for us on our Whales & Cocktails Cruise. We found our first whale about 5 minutes after we left the bay. We watched this Humpback spout twice, and then he was joined by another whale who wasn’t quite as peaceful. Whale number 2 did a couple of peduncle throws, landing right on top of whale number one. We could hear them both trumpeting (breathing really hard) when they surfaced. We got to see a few more partial peduncle throws, and then they did a deeper dive showing us their flukes (one was almost all white). We thought the show might be over, but then a third whale surfaced and started swimming towards our duo. At this point, all three began swimming and surfacing around our boat, and they were so close to the surface that we could see the turquoise reflection off their white pectoral fins (which makes them appear to be glowing). They made almost a complete circle of us before swimming on. But it wasn’t over yet. We saw 7 more whales throughout the course of the charter, bringing us to a grand total of 10 Humpbacks…on a charter on April 10th (the season isn’t over yet folks)! When we deployed the hydrophone, we did hear some singing (but it was pretty faint).
Mahalo and have a great weekend!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day:  It is very possible that Humpback Whales did not migrate to Hawaii prior to the “golden age of whaling” in the 1820’s. Not only have we not discovered fossilized remains of Humpbacks on the islands from before that time, we’ve never found petroglyphs of Humpbacks from before the 1820’s either. Also, there’s no word in the Hawaiian language for the Humpback whale (though there is a word for whale – Kohola). No commercial whaling occurred in Hawaii, though whalers did re-provision and spend the winters in Hawaii (especially in Lahaina). And…most interesting is the fact that no mention of humpback whales has been found in the log books of whaling ships anchored off Lahaina – and the whalers were paying attention to the presence of whales, since any whale taken meant MONEY. Perhaps the whaling taking place in the North Japan Sea at that time forced the Humpbacks to find new migratory destinations eventually bringing them to our shores.

Flukes, Peduncle Throws, and more Curious Calves


It’s been another windy weekend in Waikoloa, and that’s caused us to have some interesting Whale Watches. On Friday, our 8:00 Breakfast with the Whales reports seeing 4 Humpbacks — 2 of them were about 100 yards away from us. We watched these close-up whales for most of the trip. They’d surface, spout a few times, and then sound for 10 minutes. We got to see lots of fluke shots, and noticed that one of our whales had mostly black flukes, and the other had a distinct white spot on each side of his flukes. We got to see our all black-fluke whale perform 2 peduncle throws (always exciting to see)! On our 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae, the wind was a-blowin’ but we saw 3 Humpbacks spouting. We did deploy the hydrophone on that trip, but only picked up faint songs (often, when the wind blows hard, it’s difficult to keep the microphone deep enough for good resolution). On Sunday, our 8:00 Breakfast with the Whales trip reports seeing 3 different pods of Cow/Calf/Escorts. Lots of spouting going on, but no real surface displays to report….we weren’t able to deploy the hydrophone on this trip either. On our 10:00 Whale Watch, we saw 3 whales. One was spotted in the beginning of the trip, South of the harbor. And a little later, we came upon a Cow/Calf pod. Baby was really pretty small, and as with most calves, interested in us. After they sounded, we shut the engines down and just drifted for awhile, waiting to see where they’d surface next. And then, our depth sounder alarm went off — they were 10 feet under the boat! On our 3:00 Whales and Cocktails, Captain Baker reports finding a very active competitive pod. We felt very lucky that we were able to watch the surface fight and chase for more than 40 minutes.


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Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: Though we don’t get to witness it here (at least not very often), Humpbacks have devised a very creative way to feed called “Bubble Net” feeding. A cooperative pod will dive under schools of krill, herring or other small fish. One whale will begin swimming in circles, and blowing bubbles out of his (or her) blowholes. Bubbles, as they rise, expand, which creates a “net” entrapping the prey. Once the prey are balled together inside the circle of bubbles, the whales will take turns lunging through the middle of the circle to gulp their lunch. The whole process is accompanied by lots of vocalizations, culminating in a loud “shriek” right as the bubble net reaches the surface and right before the whales surface…we’re pretty sure the loud noises help to scare the fish upward and further compact the “bait ball”.



Captain Claire