Guests on Monday’s Signature Whale Watch from Kawaihae got to see lots of activity at the surface. Throughout the course of the cruise we got to watch 3 different Mom/calf pods…and two of them were accompanied by escorts. We also saw a LOT of breaching. Some of the breaches were out in the wind line, but not all of them. At one point while we were watching Momma and her baby, Mom breached…which set the baby off, and we watched this little guy breach multiple times. Baby whale breaches are just so cute…the calves aren’t the most coordinated, so sometimes a breach ends up as a belly flop.
On our Whales and Cocktails at Sunset Cruise we saw a wide variety of interactions between cetaceans. At the beginning of the cruise we encountered a pod of two whales and watched as they met a pod of three whales. The pod of three was surrounded by dolphins (we think they were bottlenose — definitely bigger than spinners). This newly formed competitive pod splashed around a little, and we saw one peduncle throw before the pod of two broke away. Later in the cruise we had a close encounter with a Mom/Baby/Escort pod. And when I say close, I mean CLOSE. These three cut right across our bow only about 20 yards from us. And due to the wind direction, when the escort spouted, everyone on the starboard side got a face full (including our naturalist, Greg)! On our way back to the harbor, we watched a pod of Spinner Dolphins zip right past us…they didn’t have time to play…evening is when the Spinners head out to sea for dinner.
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 probably should take into account that many mature females without calves have already left Hawaii by now, so maybe these males are just accompanying any female they can find.