As promised, I have 2 days worth of sightings to report.
Guests on Tuesday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise started their cruise with a big splash about 800 yards away. By the time we got to where we thought that whale was, he was nowhere to be seen. So we waited for awhile, listening to some faint sounds through the hydrophone. After giving up on seeing our splasher, we searched for other whales for another hour before seeing a Mom/Calf duo. They were doing their own thing, but we got a couple of glimpses of them before they headed out. Finally, on the way back into the bay, we saw one more lone Humpback. This whale spouted and sounded but didn’t show us his flukes prior to his big dive.
On Wednesday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise, we saw spouts and dorsal fins from 6 different Humpbacks, but we spent our cruise watching a Mom/Calf pod. They stayed with us for a substantial portion of the trip, and we never saw evidence of an escort, so we were pretty sure they were just a two-some. Baby made several close approaches to our boat, and Mom didn’t seem to mind, so we got some great views of that little calf. Each time we lowered the hydrophone, we heard loud and clear whale voices, so we knew there were whales close by who we weren’t seeing too.
During Wednesday’s Snorkel & Whale Watch Adventure, we also got to spend some time with Momma Humpback and her calf (we’re pretty sure they were the same duo who checked us out during our first cruise). Once again, we saw a lot of baby, and a bit less of Mom, and once again we didn’t see evidence of an escort.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: With all this talk about contagious diseases these days, a guest on Monday’s Exclusive Snorkel & Whale Watch Adventure asked me if whales ever get sick. The answer is “sadly, yes”. One of the more notable early studies of whale illnesses occurred In 1985, when a Humpback researcher named Tom Ford started wondering why some Humpbacks have really foul breath. Using an agar plate attached to a bent coat hanger attached to a long bamboo pole, he and his son drove around until they got close enough to get a sample of whale breath (remember…this was before drone technology and “Snotbots”).. They sent the sample to the lab with instructions to incubate it till something grew…but nothing happened…until Tom remembered the missing factor. Water weighs a lot, and a whale under water is under pressure. So they rigged up a pressure cooker, got another sample, and lo and behold, saw a bloom of the diphtheria bacteria. Turns out one of the diagnostic tools human doctors use to diagnose diphtheria is FOUL breath! Most of the humpbacks who are carrying this bacteria are sub-adults (whales at the bottom of the social ladder). Dr. Ford theorized that the whales heal on their own because as the whale gets bigger she would have access to more desirable food sources and spend less time overall at the deepest and highest pressure depths.