Guests joining us on Tuesday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise saw more than 15 different whales during the course of the cruise. Highlights included a very close encounter with a surprise Humpback off our stern. We had stopped the boat to wait for some other whales who had spouted and taken a dive to resurface and were just floating there when the sound of this guy’s spout surprised us all. The whale surfaced about 20 feet off our stern, and just sort of lay on the water looking at us and spouting. When a whale is that close to us, we really can appreciate how big Humpbacks actually are (and this whale was a BIG one). He never took a fluke dive, but he did slide a few feet under the surface and stayed with us for awhile giving us all a good view of him while he took his time looking back at us. We also saw several close by pec slaps from two different Humpbacks. And as we were heading back to the bay at the end of the cruise, a pod of very active spinner dolphins joined us to play in our bow wake — a very nice little bonus!
On our 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we saw about 10 different Humpbacks. Most were in pods of two, just spouting and diving. One pod was interested in us though, and approached us on 5 different occasions. We’re not sure what about our boat was so intriguing to them — maybe the length and shape of our hulls reminded them of a whale they knew…or maybe the sounds of excitement they heard from us every time they surfaced close by was interesting to them.
Finally, on the 3:00 Sail with the Whale Cruise, we headed out of the bay towards some spouting only to get there and find no whales…but patience paid off because Captain Shane stopped the boat and waited, and within 5 minutes, 4 humpbacks surfaced and spouted close by. After they sounded, two more whales surfaced and spouted and sounded, only to be followed by the original 4 surfacing, spouting (very close by) and spouting! We also got to see several pec slaps and tail lobs from other whales farther away, and some head lunges too. While all that was going on, and we were all looking different directions, a whale did a complete breach about 120 yards off our bow. Some of us were looking ahead, and when the whale came out of the water, started shouting…that alerted all the rest of us to turn our heads in time to see at least part of the breach. Spectacular!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Humpback Whales don’t have teeth — they have approximately 270 – 400 pairs of baleen plates hanging from the top palate of their mouths, ranging in length from a foot to about 3 feet long. Where the baleen is attached to the palate, it feels like a horse’s hoof — but it fringes out to form dense mats allowing the whale to “strain the soup of the ocean” when feeding. Humpback baleen is black.