Monday’s day of cruises began with sightings of a competitive pod on our Wake Up with the Whales Cruise. Two male whales were chasing a Mom and her calf all over the place, and amidst all that surface commotion, we even got to watch baby slap his tail a few times. After watching this pod for awhile, we found another competitive pod — this time it was comprised of 4 adult Humpbacks, and they were charging across the surface too. As we headed back into the bay, we were completely surprised when a young calf surfaced right in front of us. Of course we stopped the boat, and we watched him and his mom for a few minutes before we had to cruise back to our mooring.
As soon as the guests de-boarded from our first cruise, we boarded guests for our Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise and headed right back out to sea. We figured we’d find those competitive pods we had just left, but once again, the whales proved that their behaviors can be quite unpredictable. Sure, we saw a lot of spouts from Humpbacks on the surface, but most of them were too far from us to make it worth the travel time. We deployed the hydrophone and heard lots of great whale sounds (so we knew there were Humpbacks around us who we couldn’t see – maybe some of them were the whales who were competing earlier), but it wasn’t until the end of the cruise that we got a close encounter. Again it was with a young calf and his mom. Baby was zipping around all over the place, and we enjoyed trying to guess where he’d surface next.
We spent most of our Pau Hana Sunset Cruise with a pod of 2 very active adult Humpbacks. They first caught our attention with some splashing they were doing on the surface (from a distance, we thought there were certainly more than two whales competing). When we got closer, we got to watch them synchronize a whole bunch of pec waves, pec slaps, tail lobs and even some peduncle throws, and these two were really close to each other. Later in the cruise, our duo intersected with a pod of Spinner Dolphins. Though the dolphins swung by our boat to take a look, they were much more interested in the whales, and they either led the whales or were chased by them for quite awhile. Eventually a third Humpback joined the party and did a huge tail lob right at our stern. We had to turn back towards the bay, but we kept an eye on all those cetaceans…one whale (we weren’t sure which) headed off on his or her own, and the other two swam away with the dolphins.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Humpback Whales (and, in fact, all Baleen Whales) demonstrate something called “reverse sexual size dimorphism”. This means that an adult female Humpback is larger than an adult male (by about 5%). Though researchers are not sure of the exact reason for the difference in size, they theorize that the increased size allows the female to store more reserves to feed and care for her calf, and also to give birth to a bigger calf who might have a better chance of survival than a smaller one. Average length for a fully grown female Humpback is around 45 – 50 feet. At her heaviest, she weighs 35 – 40 tons.