Lots to report from this weekend’s cruises!
- Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise started off with some breaches. We then saw a whole bunch of tail lobs and head lunges from other whales. To top it off, we had a very close encounter from some whales who decided to swim between Manu Iwa and Seasmoke.
- Friday’s Signature Whale Watch began with sightings of Mom,Baby and Escort just kind of hanging out at the surface. After watching them for awhile we saw a couple of big spouts and headed on. These spouts turned out to be from a pod of two mature Humpbacks. At first we could see them right under the surface (the beautiful white pec flippers of one of them were glowing turquoise). But they didn’t stay underwater for long — our white pec flipper whale directed 2 huge peduncle throws followed by multiple tail lobs at the other whale before sounding. One of our guests asked if the humpbacks were frightened by noises we make on board, and when our naturalist Greg answered, “No, sometimes the sounds we make attract actually them”, the whole boat erupted in shouts. As if on cue, the whales surfaced about 50 feet in front of us and the active one started peduncle throwing and tail lobbing again! We also saw many, many breaches on the horizon.
- The highlight of Friday’s Whales and Cocktails at Sunset was when we were investigated closely by a baby whale and her mom. We originally were drawn to the area by baby’s repetitive breaching, and when we got there baby settled down a bit but was obviously drawn to us. She surfaced right at our port bow and then she and her Mom swam just under the surface down the port side to the stern and then circled us a couple of times before moving on.
- Saturday’s Snorkel and Whale Watch Adventure Cruise challenged most of our senses. Not only could we hear the whales singing while we were snorkeling, but we got some great views of them too. While we were heading back to the bay after lunch, we were surprised by a sub-adult who breached at our 9:00 only about 100 yards from us. We stopped to watch, and got to see two double breaches (he was accompanied by a bigger whale), and a bunch more single breaches from our sub-adult. We also caught a whiff of something that smelled really, really bad while these whales were breaching…could have been whale poop (although we didn’t really see anything in the water)…or maybe the whale was passing gas…or maybe he had really bad breath (see today’s Fact of the Day below)??!! It wasn’t anything we want to ever smell again, but in retrospect, it was pretty interesting.
- The wind came up and the swell was building during Sunday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, but we still saw quite a few humpbacks. besides multiple spouts, and several far away breaches, there were two real highlights from this cruise. The first was the Humpback who took us completely by surprise when he breached at our 5:00 about 25 yards from us (we had been cruising but had just turned the boat around to watch a different whale spouting). The second highlight was the pod of Spinner dolphins who made a b-line for the boat and joined us for a few moments of fun as we were heading back into the bay.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: In 1985, a Humpback researcher named Tom Ford started wondering why some Humpbacks have really foul breath. Using an agar plate attached to a bent coat hanger attached to a long bamboo pole, he and his son drove around until they got close enough to get a sample of whale breath. They sent the sample to the lab with instructions to incubate it till something grew…but nothing happened…until Tom remembered the missing factor. Water weighs a lot, and a whale underwater is under pressure.So they rigged up a pressure cooker, got another sample, and lo and behold, saw a bloom of the diphtheria bacteria. Turns out one of the diagnostic tools human doctors use to diagnose diphtheria is FOUL breath! Most of the humpbacks who are carrying this bacteria are sub-adults (whales at the bottom of the social ladder). Dr. Ford theorized that the whales heal on their own because as the whale gets bigger she would have access to more desirable food sources and spend less time overall at the deepest and highest pressure depths.