We didn’t operate our Wake up with the Whales Cruise with it’s 8:00 AM departure time on January 1st — in our 37 1/2 years of running cruises, we’ve found that people just don’t want to get up that early on the first day of the new year. But by mid-morning, most people are ready to go, so we boarded Alala and left Kawaihae Harbor at 9:30 to look for Humpbacks.
All the whales we saw (and there were at least 6) were just kind of relaxing together. We saw lots of spouts and a few flukes as these whales sounded. Some of them were doing shallow dives though…just kind of slipping under the surface. Bottom times ranged from 10 – 20 minutes.
We tried deploying the hydrophone, but there was another boat cruising around about 1/2 mile from us, and their engine sounds overpowered any whale songs we could pick up. This, of course, proves that our hydrophone does pick up rather faint sounds…but it also makes us wonder exactly how much small boat noises affect Humpback singing behaviors (see the Fact of the Day below for more about this).
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Though it may be more difficult to hear them, in our experience, Humpbacks seem to continue singing regardless of the number of small catamarans and fishing boats cruising above them off our coastlines. Recently researchers working off a remote Japanese island found that Humpbacks within 500 meters of a passing passenger-cargo liner actually stopped singing, and these whales didn’t resume singing till about 30 minutes after the ship passed by. The researchers also noted that the whales didn’t alter their songs (no changes in frequency/decibel level). Since this study took place in an area where there wasn’t constant shipping traffic, the researchers suggest that future research should address possible changes in Humpback singing behaviors in areas with more continuous noise exposure. Want to read more about this research? Click here.