We saw some interesting behaviors on our cruises on Thursday. We started the day with a pod of very active Spinner Dolphins who took a bee-line for our Wake up with the Whales Cruise as soon as they heard us. We could have watched them all day…but…we kept seeing some splashing going on from Humpbacks a little further out. So we cruised that way, only to find a pair of fairly large whales. The one who was slightly behind was pec slapping and pec slapping and pec slapping. The one in front didn’t reciprocate…in fact she (he?) just kept cruising along on the surface, never really altering the distance she kept from the slapper. They really didn’t appear to be competing…just cruising and slapping. We also heard some great sounds when we dropped the hydrophone during this cruise. The sound clip I’m including really doesn’t do it justice…but we did capture a couple of great “whoops”.
After we dropped the folks off from this cruise, we turned right around for a 10:30 Cruise. This trip was really interesting too. As we headed south from the bay, we were surprised by 3 big whales who decided to surface 30 feet off our stern to spout…and then decided to continue chasing us down (we made that kind of easy for them, by stopping)…and they swam right underneath us. After our blood pressure returned to normal, we continued heading south towards 3 breachers we were watching in the distance, only to be surprised by another pod of whales who decided to surface near us. Of course we stopped the boat again…and they decided to breach right next to us. And not just once…but probably a total of 10 times (we lost count). Unbelievable.
On our 10:00 Cruise from Kawaihae, it seemed like we didn’t have even a minute of down time – there were whales to see the entire cruise. Besides a competitive pod of 5 who charged all around us for most of the cruise, head lunging and trumpeting, we also saw several breaches from whales further out to sea. And we spent some time watching a Mom/Calf/Escort pod too.
Have a great weekend…I’ll send out a recap of our sightings on Monday.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: In yesterday’s Fact of the Day, I talked about Humpback feeding behavior and mentioned the ways we know it doesn’t occur frequently in Hawaii (mostly because we don’t observe whale pooping behavior here). After reading that comment, our favorite researcher, Chris Gabriele, sent me an email telling me that she and her team do observe Humpbacks pooping about once per season in Hawaii (she described it as a “big, whale-sized, brown/green cloud that dissipates and sinks rapidly”). In fact, Chris’s crew got to see some the other day, and instead of just watching it sink, they sprang into action and collected a sample for another researcher, Joe Roman. Joe is analyzing whale poop to try to determine where the whales are eating (was it Hawaiian food or Alaskan) and also the roles whales play in cycling nutrients from the surface to the the depths of the ocean (and back again).