Wednesday was a very good day for watching Humpbacks on the Kohala Coast — especially if you like to see baby Humpbacks (and who doesn’t?).
Guests on our Wake up with the Whales Cruise saw at least 8 different whales, but we focused our attention on a Mom/Calf pair who was focusing their attention on us. These two stayed with the boat for more than an hour, swimming all around us and under us. But that’s not all they did…they breached at least 7 times, and the first couple of breaches were just 30 feet from our boat. When we could tear our eyes away from these two, we also saw whales tail lobbing a bit further away, and when we deployed our hydrophone we heard some great songs.
We started our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise surrounded by a pod of Spinner Dolphins. When these cetaceans tired of playing with us, we headed south, and found Mom Humpback and her baby offshore of Puako. This calf was really small and had a very bent dorsal fin, so we’re guessing he was just a few weeks old. He was up on the surface every 2 or 3 minutes for a couple of breaths, and though Mom wasn’t up as often, we got several great views of her as she surfaced close by – at one point, she was just 50 feet from our idling boat.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Though you probably know by now that Humpbacks don’t have teeth to help break down their food, have you ever stopped to think how they can so efficiently digest the thousand pounds of food they eat daily in Alaska? It all has to do with their compartmentalized 3 – part stomachs. The first part, called the “forestomach” or “rumen” uses strong muscular contractions to begin to break the food down. The food then moves into the “cardiac stomach” where acids and enzymes are produced to further liquefy it.This partially digested food then moves through a narrow tube into the “pylorus” where mucus is added to help the food slide through the intestines. Since cetaceans don’t have gall bladders, their huge livers supply the bile they need for lipid (fat) digestion, and their very long intestines (up to 5 times the length of their bodies) allow for adequate nutrient absorption.