In our Whale Reports from year’s past, we know that we’ve mentioned that one of the easiest ways we have to recognize individual Humpbacks is by the unique white markings they have on the ventral sides of their flukes…but after Tuesday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise we’re starting to wonder if the Humpbacks have devised their own methods to recognize us and our different boats. Guests on this cruise got to watch two medium size whales who chose to come right up to our boat 3 different times. These whales were on 10 minute dive cycles, so we didn’t even need to wait all that long between sightings. What were these whales looking at? Do they remember our hulls from previous visits to Hawaii and were they excited to find us again?
We began our Mid-Morning Whale Watch by heading towards some spouts Captain Kino saw near the Mauna Lani Resort. When we arrived at the spot — even though we saw two more spouts about 1000 yards ahead of us — he stopped the boat. And those incredible Captain-instincts paid off when after 10 minutes of waiting, his first two whales surfaced just about 80 yards off our port bow. After they sounded, we waited another 10 minutes and saw spouts about 800 yards behind us…we really didn’t think those were “our” whales, and sure enough, 3 minutes later, “our” whales startled us all when they surfaced and spouted about 50 feet behind us (they must have swum under us to check us out). We watched them spout 6 more times before they lifted their flukes simultaneously and sounded.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Researchers have discovered that the brains of many cetaceans, including Humpbacks contain 3 times as many spindle neurons as are found in humans. They believe these specialized neurons evolved to aid in speed of communication of signals across larger brains. In humans these neurons have been observed to be active when subjects are experiencing strong emotions and social awareness…so maybe the whales we’re studying so closely are actually studying us too! Click on the image above to learn more about Humpback spindle neurons.