The whales were everywhere for our Tuesday Wake up with the Whales Cruise from Anaeho’omalu Bay. Though we really didn’t travel far, during the course of the cruise we saw spouts, peduncle arches (this term describes the posture that gave these whales their common name, “Humpback”), and flukes from more than 18 different whales…most in pods of two. When we deployed our hydrophone, the whales we were listening to were fairly loud, but we could tell the sounds weren’t loud enough to be from any of the whales we were looking at. Towards the end of the cruise, one whale about 125 yards from us started peduncle throwing, and then tail lobbing, and then peduncle throwing again. And then he decided to pec slap. While we were watching this incredible show, two more whales breached simultaneously about 150 yards further away, but directly behind the active pod. Which meant, we ALL got to see that double breach. And then to top it all off, on the way back to the bay, we saw a 10 foot manta ray feeding at the surface.
(A Peduncle Throw…image courtesy of Captain Jeff McConnel)
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Why would a whale waste the energy to throw the back half of his or her body out of the water in a peduncle throw (sometimes repetitively)?? Since the whales aren’t telling, all we can do is try to interpret their behavior in terms of what else is going on in their lives at that moment. We know that Humpbacks very rarely eat while they’re in Hawaii, and since a peduncle throw is a huge expenditure of energy (if you don’t believe me, try it yourself next time you’re in the ocean), it’s got to be important to the whale. Throwing half of yourself out of the water results in a huge splash and might be a way to communicate location, health, excitement, aggression or irritation to near-by whales. Especially if the near-by whale happens to be so near that he gets landed upon!