We began our weekend surrounded by Humpbacks. On Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, guests saw multiple breaches from different whales in different directions. We spent most of our time watching a Mom/Baby/Escort pod…baby burned off some energy by breaching at least 7 times while we watched. We also got to see Mom and the Escort surfacing and spouting several times. And, much to our surprise, while we were all focused on this trio, another Mom and Baby surfaced on the other side of the boat…we didn’t even know they were there!
On Friday’s Whales & Cocktails at Sunset Cruise, we ping-ponged between two pods of two whales…since both pods had long bottom times, we were able to reposition the boat in time to watch all of them surfacing and spouting several times. On our way back to the harbor, we encountered a Mom/Baby/Escort pod — baby was on the surface a lot, and Mom and the Escort made a couple of appearances while we watched too.
We encountered a lot of lumpy bumpy water on Saturday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, but a lot of whales too. Though we saw spouts from many different Humpbacks all around us, the highlight of the trip was watching 2 different Mom/Baby pods. One of those pods was accompanied by an Escort and on the surface a bit…but the other was even more fun to watch. This Baby/Mom duo seemed to be in a breaching contest…they alternated breaches for awhile, and we even got to see them breach simultaneously. Baby was obviously very interested in us, and Mom let him cruise right over to take a look while she hovered patiently – and protectively – below.
Guests on Saturday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise saw spouts from more than 15 different whales all around us. We spent most of our time watching a Mom/Baby/Escort pod who were just hanging around, all of them surfacing fairly often. Towards the end of the cruise the Escort decided to make his presence known by breaching right off our bow…followed by a whole bunch of head lunges about 30 feet from us. We’re not completely sure he was trying to communicate with us, as the Mom and Baby he was accompanying were right there too…and there were other whales in the vicinity including many other Humpbacks who were breaching in the wind on the horizon.
By Saturday afternoon, the wind was really filling in, and the forecast for Sunday looked even worse…so on the advice of the Coast Guard, we cancelled Sunday’s Cruises.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Were all those breaches and head lunges we saw from adult Humpbacks this past weekend really forms of communication? We’ve always guessed that was the case, and now research seems to support this theory. Researchers watching Humpbacks off of Australia observed that breaching occurred most frequently when other whales were about 2 1/2 miles away, and repetitive tail and flipper slapping occurred most often just before new whales joined or left a pod. They also observed all these behaviors more often when it was windy (we’ve observed this in Hawaii too)! So…creating a big splash may be a Humpback’s way to say “Hey — Guys — I’m over here! C’mon over (or Don’t Go)! I’m excited, I’m tough, I’m irritated”. You can read more about this research here.