It was another windy weekend on the Kohala Coast.
So windy, in fact, that on Friday, we were only able to operate one cruise – our Wake Up with the Whales Cruise. Highlights from this cruise included being surrounded by 3 solo Humpbacks: one of them was about 100 yards from us at our 2:00; one was about 300 yards from us at our 10:00; and the third was about 400 yards from us at our 7:00. After watching them all spout, we got to see a couple of flukes as they sounded. We were also able to deploy the hydrophone. Usually, to our untrained ears, the sounds we hear sound kind of random, but this time we could clearly hear the difference between themes as the whales switched from making some very identifiable repetitive notes to a completely different group of sounds.
The star of the show on Saturday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise was the Humpback who chased us. It was windy again, and Seasmoke was being blown around, but the whale didn’t seem to care as he continually surfaced right behind us no matter where we were. At one point, we were being blown downwind at 5 knots, and we watched as this whale surfaced and then appeared to be riding the wind swell, keeping up with us, and looking like he was surfing.
It was also windy up in Kawaihae during Saturday’s Mid-Morning Cruise, but we managed to stay in the lee for much of the cruise, paralleling a lone Humpback who was also in the lee and traveling north. This whale surfaced frequently, though we were never able to predict where he would next show up…sometimes in front of us, sometimes behind us, and sometimes right along side. We all got to watch him sound just about 30 yards from us, giving us a great view of his flukes. When we looked around, we saw other whales splashing on the surface on our horizon, and a pair of whales surfacing and spouting nearer to the harbor (though we never got a close-up view of this two-some).
Guests on Sunday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise watched a lone Humpback spouting and sounding in front of the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort. We also saw 3 breaches just 100 yards from our port rail, and several peduncle throws from other excited Humpbacks.
Finally on our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise, we saw some Humpbacks spouting here and there to the north of us, but it wasn’t until we had turned the boat and began heading back to the harbor that we saw any of them close up. We spotted a lone whale at our 1:00 about 100 yards from us…and then watched as he surfaced again at our 2:00 about 75 yards from us, and again at our 3:00 even closer. We were hoping he’d surface again right at our stern, but he cruised underneath us and we didn’t see him again till he was several hundred yards behind us. We also got to see a lone Humpback spouting several times right next to the red nun (buoy) that marks the channel entrance to the harbor, but we couldn’t stick around to watch him because a) he was in the entrance to the harbor and we didn’t want to be a “hazard to navigation”, and b) we were already pretty late getting back from the cruise.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Most Humpbacks are “right-handed”. How do we know? Researchers looking at abrasions on Humpbacks’ jaws found more abrasions on the right jaw than on the left, and observed more “flippering” with the right flipper than with the left, suggesting a definite right-side preference among the Humpback population.