Wednesday was a good day for watching Humpbacks on the Kohala Coast.
We saw a diverse representation of Humpback society on our Wake Up with the Whales Cruise. We began the cruise watching a competitive pod charging down the coast. One of these whales was definitely out of breath from the swim, as we heard that tell-tale trumpeting sound when he spouted. Later in the cruise, 2 whales announced their presence with some very big spouts, surfacing right at our bow. And towards the end of the cruise we encountered an exhausted looking Momma, and her really young calf. The baby’s dorsal fin was completely bent over (indicating he hadn’t been out of the womb all that long). We weren’t entirely sure if Mom was logging on the surface (basically just laying there) because she was tired from recently giving birth, or if we had happened upon her during her morning respite from chasing around after her inquisitive calf.
Guests on our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise from Kawaihae had their pick of directions to look, as there were Humpbacks spouting all over the place. We saw some breaching from a Humpback in the distance (well, some of us saw the breaches, but more of us saw the resulting splashes). Later, we all got a spike in our blood pressure when a Humpback surfaced and spouted just about 30 yards from the bow of our drifting boat. Though Captain Kino is really, really good at stopping the boat about 100 yards from a diving whale’s footprint (see today’s Fact of the Day for an explanation of this phenomenon), it’s still quite a surprise when the whale chooses to surface 10 or 15 minutes later, close enough that we hear the spout before we even see the whale. Guests sitting at the stern of Alala got some great views of whales surfacing behind us…and those guests standing along the rails of the boat or sitting in the cabin next to the windows were happy when they got to see some surfacing whales cruising by us too.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: The smooth round flat spot we see on the water after a whale dives is called the “footprint”. Whalers thought it was caused by oil from the whale’s skin calming the surface of the water, but water samples have proven that theory to be false. When a whale dives (or kicks just below the surface) his flukes break the surface tension of the water and create a vertical wake, forming the circular footprint.