We saw some incredible Humpback action this past weekend. Highlights include watching one whale breach 9 times in a row on our Friday 8:00 am Wake up With the Whales. We also watched a different Humpback pec slap so many times we lost count. On our Friday 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we saw 30 different Humpbacks, and pretty much every behavior in the book including pec slaps, peduncle throws, spy hops, head lunges and tail lobs. But what blew us all away was watching a Humpback breach 20 times in a row (we counted) just 100 feet from the boat!
On Saturday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, we saw about a dozen different Humpbacks and played “leap frog” with a pod of two whales. We know they were the same two that we saw several times because of their behavior. One would surface, spout and sound, showing us his flukes, while the other would surface, spout and then slip under the water. We also saw some pec slaps and breaches about a 1000 yards away…and some of us were lucky enough to see a full breach about 200 yards off our bow, but most of us were looking the wrong way to catch that one. On the 10:00 Cruise, we watched lots of surface activity from lots of different adult Humpbacks (pec slaps, breaches, tail lobs) and we saw two different Mom/Baby pairs. We also got escorted by a pod of about 50 Spinner Dolphins near the harbor on the way back in.
On Sunday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, we saw lots of action…including a breach while we had the hyrdophone in the water. We were very surprised (and impressed) to hear the splash through the speakers! On the 10:00 Cruise we found a Mom/Baby pod just south of the harbor. Of course we’re not sure if it’s the same Mom and Baby we’ve been seeing in that area, but they were the same relative sizes. We spend a good 40 minutes or so drifting about 100 – 120 yards from them, watching baby dive down to mom, and then come up to the surface. Intermittently, we got to see Mom surface too. We also saw several larger adult Humpbacks…mostly just surfacing, spouting and sounding, showing us their flukes. On the way back into the harbor we saw some commotion going on about 500 yards from us…a couple of flukes, and a couple of pectoral fins, but no real slapping.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: The gestation period for a Humpback whale is about 11 months, which means the calves we’re seeing this year were conceived last winter. We can only estimate gestation because oddly, researchers have never observed the same female mating and then giving birth (in fact, there has never been documented observation of humpback copulation or calving at all)!