The surf was UP on Wednesday, but we got out to sea and had an incredible time on our Wake up with the Whales Cruise. Besides seeing somewhere around 14 different Humpbacks (including one who breached), we found Mom with a very small calf. Baby’s dorsal fin was bent almost completely over indicating he was really young. We got a chance to deploy the hydrophone too, and when we did, we heard multiple layers of sounds (lots of singers all over the place). But the neatest thing of all…we got to watch a couple of Humpbacks feeding! First, we saw all the little bubbles indicating “bait fish” near the surface so we headed over to check it out. When we got there, we saw a 9-10 foot long tiger shark cruising around the fish…and then watched as a couple of humpbacks began diving below and all around those poor fish. Our on-board naturalist today, Gary, spends his summers captaining Whale Watch boats off the coast of British Columbia, so he’s familiar with Humpback feeding behaviors and confirmed that what we were watching matched what is seen when the whales are feeding in the colder waters!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Why was getting to see a few Humpbacks engaging in feeding behaviors so interesting to us? Well, for the most part, we know that Humpbacks fast while they’re in the lower latitudes (during mating season). And how do we know this? A couple of ways…during whaling days, the whalers flensing the whales aboard their boats (cutting them apart) would find the whales had empty stomachs while they were in the tropics. Also, the Humpbacks main food sources are scarce down here. But to really figure out why we know Humpbacks don’t feed frequently in Hawaiian waters, we ask you to think like a scientist. This year 15,000+ Humpbacks will filter through the islands. If they were consuming even half as much as they do when they’re in Alaska…well…what goes in….(you finish that thought, please).
And we don’t see that kind of evidence in the water here!