Our first weekend of Whale Watching was quite successful! On both Friday and Sunday, we operated Wake up with the Whales Cruises out of Anaeho’omalu Bay and had similar experiences on each of them, with several sightings of Humpbacks who were just surfacing, spouting a couple of times and then diving. On Sunday’s cruise we were in the right position to see some beautiful and very symmetrical white markings on the bottom of one of our whale’s flukes.
On Saturday, we operated our 10:00 Whale Watch out of Kawaihae. and what a trip that was! We spotted a spout just a few minutes after we left the harbor, and though we never saw evidence of a deep dive (no “flukes up”), by the time we got to where we thought the whale was, she (he?) was long gone.
So we continued up the coastline. We traveled for quite awhile, and finally decided to turn around and try another direction. Captain Kimo hadn’t even completed the turn before we saw another spout, so he turned around again and then put the boat in neutral. We watched as a smaller humpback (probably a yearling) spouted and then made a b-line to us! We got to see him right at the surface — rolling around, showing one half of his fluke, and then the other half. We also got to see a few peduncle throws as he swam past us. After he left, we had to head back to the harbor, and again, just after we turned the boat, we looked behind to us to see if our young whale had surfaced, and were completely surprised by two complete breaches from a bigger whale we didn’t even know was there…just about 200 yards to our stern.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: You may have heard that Humpback Whales are no longer on the Endangered Species List…but don’t worry, they’re still protected. Just this past autumn, after researchers determined that there actually 14 distinct populations of Humpbacks, NOAA removed “our” Humpbacks (and 8 other populations) from the list. In the United States, the protection Humpbacks receive under the Marine Mammal Protection Act has not changed. I’ll provide more info about this protection tomorrow.