Aloha…hope your weekend was as interesting as ours.
Guests on Friday’s 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae, got to see so many different Humpbacks it was hard to keep count. Highlights included a pair of fully grown humpbacks who came up to us for a close encounter as we were leaving the harbor, a humpback who was breaching, pec slapping and tail lobbing to the north of us (but she stopped all the activity before we arrived), and a Mom/Baby/Escort pod. As this pod of three circled our boat, we could tell that baby was doing his best to make a close approach (for investigative purposes?), but Mom was pretty protective and kept pushing him away from both us and the escort.
The wind came up for Friday’s Whales and Cocktails at Sunset Cruise, which limited the directions we could travel comfortably. But we got lucky with a pair of cooperating Humpbacks who decided to travel the same direction we wanted to go. We spent most of the cruise watching them surface, spout and sound. At the end of the cruise a different Humpback surfaced at our stern, so we stopped to watch him as the sun set.
On Saturday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, we saw 3 competitive pods, including one pod that swam right under us! We also got to see breaches, pec slaps, head lunges, and peduncle throws.
On Saturday’s 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we saw 10 different humpbacks but spent most of our time paralleling a lone whale who was just cruising along the coastline. This whale came up for a few blows every 5 minutes or so about 100 yards from us for several cycles…and then surprised us by surfacing just 75 yards away. Of course we were all excited…and maybe it was the noise we were making that piqued his interest, because he changed course, came over to us and then swam right under our stern giving many of us a great view of him as he looked at us. After he slipped under the surface, another whale surfaced right next to him…which made us reconsider if it actually was our shouts of excitement that caused him to change his course.
It’s difficult to sum up everything we saw on Saturday’s Whales & Cocktails at Sunset Cruise, but I’ll give it a shot. First, a couple of whales we were paralleling as they headed south surprised us by surfacing 25 feet off our stern…after a mad dash to the stern (because we were all on the bow at the time), they swam right underneath our starboard hull, surfacing again at our 1:00 (causing another mad dash – this time to the bow). After they dove, we waited around for awhile, but we were very interested in a whale we could see breaching down in Puako. Just as we started to cruise that way, one of our close-by whales breached at our 4:00 only about 25 yards away. But our Puako whale was still breaching, so we kept cruising and eventually arrived to see pec slapping, tail lobbing and many, many more breaches from 3 whales in the area. It may sound like an exaggeration, but our breacher must have breached at least 40 times. We couldn’t tear ourselves away from all the action, and ended up watching the sunset from Puako…and then had to “beat feet” to get back to the harbor before dark.
Finally, on Sunday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise on Seasmoke we saw more than 15 different Humpbacks, but spent most of our time watching a pod of two working something out between each other. The one in the lead was acting kind of aggressively towards the other one; pec slapping, peduncle throwing and tail lobbing. Though of course we aren’t positive, but it sure seemed like this was a female trying to get rid of an amorous and persistent male. We also saw a lot of breaching from other whales in the distance.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: According to research conducted by the Nelson Institute of Marine Research, a Humpback’s heart beats an average of 40bpm, but the whales do experience periods of tachycardia and bradycardia during dives.