The winds finally quieted down on Monday, so we had a smooth ocean for our 8:00 Wake up with the Whales Cruise. We saw whales everywhere…and there were a lot of them. Most of them were in pods of two, and most of them were just surfacing, spouting a couple of times, and sounding. We watched one humpback pectoral slapping (and this whale had a huge pectoral flipper, so it was pretty impressive). We know there were a lot more whales underwater too…because when we lowered our hydrophone, the sounds we heard were very loud and very clear.
We dropped our guests off from the first cruise at 10:00 and by 10:30, we were back in the exact same area with guests for our Snorkel and Whale Watch Adventure Cruise. On the way to our snorkel site, we saw lots of spouting again. While we were in the water at the snorkel spot, the whales were singing so loudly that we barely had to stick our heads underwater to hear them. On our way back to the bay, we got to see a solo whale just kind of rolling around on the surface. Captain Will suggested she might be in labor, but we weren’t able to stick around long enough to see the outcome. At the same time we were watching her, we got to watch another whale about 250 yards away from us breach at least eight times waiting several minutes between breaches, so we never knew if or when to expect another one. Oh…and towards the end of the cruise, we were surprised by two whales who surfaced just off our port side, one of whom was easily the biggest whale we had seen all season.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Just how difficult is it for a 40 ton, 45 foot long animal to “fly” from the sea in a total breach? Observers have reported seeing Humpbacks breach after only two kick strokes for propulsion. Based on the formula for calculating horsepower, measurements of laminar flow around cetacean skin (how water flows past the skin of the animal), girth and drag in the water, the breaching whale is producing between 1500 and 1700 horsepower in order to “catch air”. We used to think it was closer to 5000 horsepower, but with the aid of a calculator and more accurate measurements, we’ve been able to recalculate more accurately…still, try this yourself next time you’re in the water. We’re betting you won’t get very far!