Guests on Tuesday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise were investigated thoroughly by a very small Humpback calf. We spent over an hour near this little guy, who of course, was accompanied by his Mom….and an escort. We got to see the escort’s flukes several times as he did some deep sounding dives while Mom stayed nearer the surface. The little calf lifted his head a couple of times, checking us out. He also slapped his little flukes sort of halfheartedly. When we deployed the hydrophone off of Puako, we could hear the “whale symphony”, but we could tell that the singers were pretty far away.
After we dropped our folks off from the 8:00 Cruise, we reboarded and went right back out again on our Signature Whale Watch Cruise. Since we kind of knew where we had last seen Mom, baby and escort, we headed in that direction. Sure enough, we encountered Mom and baby again…but this time we didn’t see the escort. Baby seemed to have woken up a bit while we were gone, and he was still really curious about us. He came right over to the boat, pec slapping, rolling over on his back, and doing all sorts of little somersaults. Mom was hovering right next to him the whole time, but she let him explore us (and we’re really grateful for that). Baby was so close to us that when he rolled onto his back we could literally count his ventral pleats (those “lines” we see on his throat and belly). We also tried deploying the hydrophone during this trip, but we really couldn’t detect much of anything over the sounds of nearby boat motors.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: One of the best questions I’ve ever been asked on a Whale Watch Cruise is, “What do Humpback’s drink?” (mostly because until I was asked, I never even thought about it, so I had to do some research, and I love doing research). Anyway, we know the Humpback doesn’t sip on ocean water – he can’t because he’s a mammal and the salinity of his tissues is less than that of the ocean (so, like us, if he drank salt water, he’d dehydrate and die). We also know there’s no fresh water to drink from in the ocean. When the whale is feeding, we know he gets liquid from the tissues of the fish he’s digesting…and we know calves get liquid from their mother’s milk. But how does the Humpback survive through the breeding season when he’s not feeding? It turns out that one of the main by-products of fat metabolism is the production of water. Humpbacks burn a lot of fat during the breeding season and because they are much more efficient users of the water they produce, they can survive. They don’t have tear ducts, sweat glands or salivary glands…and they have incredibly efficient kidneys which concentrate salt in their urine.