Guests on Tuesday’s 10:00 Whale Watch from Kawaihae Harbor were greeted by a pod of about 50 Spinner Dolphins before we even got of the harbor. The dolphins did a swim-by and apparently decided that they had something better to do…because after quickly checking us out they continued on their way.
So we did too, and we eventually saw some spouts out to the west. It took us awhile to get out to them, but when we arrived, we were delighted to be looking at Mom and her late-season calf. These two whales were heading north towards the shoreline near the area we call “Black Point”, so we paralleled their path. We got to see them several times as they surfaced about 100 yards from us off our starboard rails. We were also surprised by the appearance of a third whale who surfaced repeatedly about 200 yards from them. This whale seemed to be following Mom and Baby, but we never did see if he caught up. We did get one other surprise when Mom and her calf decided to take a look at us, surfacing just about 50 ahead of us.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: The maternal instinct of the Humpback is so strong that she demonstrates allomaternal behavior. In other words, she’ll even take care of other small animals in danger! In 2009, 2 scientists sailing off the coast of South America watched as a pod of Orcas flipped a Weddell Seal off an ice flow. The seal began swimming towards a nearby Humpback. Just as the seal got close, the whale rolled onto her back, sweeping the 400 pound seal onto her chest. As the Orcas closed in, the Humpback arched her back, which lifted the seal out of the water…unfortunately for the seal, the water rushing off the whale started to wash the seal back into the sea. The scientists were astounded to see the Humpback use her flipper to gently nudge the floundering seal back onto her chest. Moments later, the seal slid back into the water and swam to the safety of a nearby ice flow.