We woke up to some wintery weather on Monday. With the high surf closing out the bay, and the winds already blowing from the west, we cancelled all of our cruises.
Did this huge swell impact the Humpbacks at all?
Well, if you read yesterday’s Whale Report, you’ll see that as the swell began to build, our sightings were definitely fewer and further between. On Friday’s and Saturday’s cruises, we saw Humpbacks spouting in all directions, but by Sunday, we had considerably fewer sightings near shore. So few, in fact, that we actually called our Sunday Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise a “Fluke” and invited everyone aboard to join us again for another cruise for FREE (and that’s something that very rarely occurs in February).
It’s pretty obvious to us that the Humpbacks didn’t undertake a mass migration back to Alaska on Sunday, so what could account for our lack of sightings? If you’re a scuba diver or a snorkeler who likes to free dive, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the effects of a growing ocean swell. Though you may not see waves breaking, the water is moving, and the movement is intensified inversely with depth. In other words, the shallower the bottom of the ocean is, the more you’ll feel the water movement.
Over the decades we’ve been watching whales off the Kohala Coast, we’ve observed this relationship between growing swells and decreasing whale sightings. Our observations are purely anecdotal, and a cursory survey of the research published on this topic didn’t result in a conclusive confirmation of what we’ve been seeing. But, I did find a study that documented swell events influencing the location of Hector’s Dolphins (and they’re toothed cousins of our Humpbacks), so for now, we’ll stand by our observations.
When this swell subsides, we’ll be back on the water and, we predict, seeing lots of Humpbacks again for the next month and a half. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you in the loop…or even better, call us at (808) 886-6666 and reserve your space aboard to find out for yourself what happens when the ocean calms down again.