Guests on our Tuesday Wake up with the Whales Cruise saw at least 10 different Humpbacks throughout the course of the cruise. These Humpbacks were all really calm, just cruising down the coast. We saw lots of spouts, and lots of beautiful flukes as the whales took sounding dives.
On our 10:00 Cruise from Kawaihae, we found a Mom/Baby/Escort pod shortly after leaving the harbor. We watched them for awhile until a bunch of little splashes caught our eye. Of course the little splashes were created by a pod of Spinner Dolphins — and these guys were very active. We watched them jump and spin all around us for quite awhile, and even lowered our hydrophone into the water to see if we could pick up any clicks or whistles. Though the dolphins were right there, any sounds they were making were overpowered by the sounds of the singing Humpbacks, so we hauled in the hydrophone and went looking for more whales. We saw a few more adult Humpbacks, including one who surfaced just 25 yards from our stern for a couple of blows. On the way back in to the harbor, we found our Mom/Baby/Escort pod. This time we watched as Mom and the Escort surfaced and dived together, leaving baby alone on the surface about 100 yards away. We weren’t sure what those two big whales were doing underwater without the calf…maybe they just wanted a little “adult” time.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: According to research conducted in Japan, the peak estrus period for Humpbacks (i.e. when females are in heat) overall, is between the end of January and the end of February, but the peak estrus period for females with a calf appears to be several weeks later. Our frequent observations of pods of Mom and Baby who are accompanied by an escort at this time of year seem to support the validity of these findings. Although, we must take into account that many mature females without calves have already left Hawaii by the beginning of March, so perhaps it isn’t the later estrus period that is attracting these males…maybe it’s just that they are accompanying any female they can find.