The ocean was calm during Wednesday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise, and so were the whales. Over the 90 minutes or so that we were out at sea, we saw at least 5 different Humpbacks, and all of them were staying underwater a long time. Patience paid off for us though because after listening to some great whale songs through our hydrophone, Captain Will stationed the boat near where he had seen a Humpback dive. After waiting (longer than some of us thought we should be waiting…but Captain Will made the correct decision), a lone Humpback surfaced near us, and then swam right underneath us…close enough to the surface that all of us could clearly see him by looking overboard. He ended up surfacing near us two more times before he (and we) left the area.
The most spectacular whale sightings we had during our Snorkel & Whale Watch Adventure Cruise happened towards the end of the trip. We got to watch a Mom/calf pair breach several times. We weren’t sure who was doing the breaching initially..but we know that Mom breached at least twice and maybe 4 times, and baby breached a bunch more. Then, as we were turning the boat to go back to the bay, a pair of two adult Humpbacks surfaced and spouted at our 12:00. After they dove and we passed where they had been, we kept our eyes open behind us and saw a couple of huge peduncle throws. We weren’t entirely sure who was doing this maneuver. It could have been Mom, protecting her calf from the two adult Humpbacks we had just seen…or maybe it was one of those two adults. Regardless, it was a great ending to our cruise.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Traditionally, the Hawaiian people did not hunt whales. It may be because they didn’t like the taste of the meat, or it may be because the spirit of the whale was so powerful. But if a toothed whale did end up on a beach (whether it died at sea and was blown ashore, or actually beached itself), only the ali’i (royalty) were allowed to possess any part of the whale. Carvings made from a whale’s tooth called “Niho Palaoa” brought mana (roughly defined as a “spiritual force”) to both the carver and the wearer of the pendant (see the image above). It’s very possible that the upward curve of the carved tooth represents a tongue — referencing the importance of discourse in the lives of the ali’i, and the braided cords of hair represent the genetic links between the wearer and his ancestral ‘aumakua (deities).