We set a course to the south out of Kawaihae Harbor on Saturday’s Wake Up with the Whales Cruise, though we kept “our heads on a swivel” so we wouldn’t miss seeing any of the last remaining Humpbacks along the coastline. We eventually found Mom Humpback and her little calf offshore of Hapuna Beach. Baby was in an exploring mode, and we saw quite a bit of him. At first we wondered if Mom was accompanied by one of those last remaining male Humpbacks who were desperate to mate before migrating, but for as long as we got to watch these two, we never saw a third whale. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean that Mom won’t be attracting the attention of any nearby males once she begins her migration, we felt good that at least on Saturday morning, Mom was able to focus all her attention on watching, resting with, and feeding her calf.
We also ran a Pau Hana Sunset Cruise on Saturday. Even though we cruised basically the same area as we had during our morning cruise, Mom Humpback and her calf were nowhere to be seen. We did encounter 4 manta rays off shore of Puako, and 3 different times saw big fish skipping through the air in hot pursuit of their prey. Though we couldn’t positively identify these fish, Captain Sam thought they might have been barracuda…or perhaps they were big needlefish — bigger than the ones we usually see (some of them grow to 3 feet long in Hawaii) — trying to avoid becoming prey.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: In the 1890′s, a whaler with very pale and mottled skin by the name of James Bartley claimed that he had been swallowed by a Sperm Whale. He said that he had been pursuing the whale off the coast of the Falkland Islands when he was thrown from his boat, and that after searching for him for a short while, his shipmates gave up on finding him, presuming he was lost at sea.
Two days after he went missing, the crew on The Star of the East killed a Sperm whale, and lo and behold — they found Bartley in the whale’s stomach! Supposedly, Bartley was a “raving lunatic” for several weeks, but then recovered enough to remember the experience — enough that he was able to make a modest living travelling with an exhibit of a stuffed Sperm Whale. Bartley claimed his skin appeared the way it did due to permanent damage caused by the whale’s gastric juices during the two days he spent inside the whale’s stomach.
At the time, the story of this “modern day Jonah” was very popular in religious tracts and broadcasts, but it has since been debunked. Besides the obvious fact that it wouldn’t be possible to live inside a live Sperm Whale for two days, Bartley’s supposed ship “The Star of the East” wasn’t even a whaling boat! And even it had been a renegade whaling ship, there was no record of a James Bartley even working on board. Even James’ wife claimed the story was “a good yarn”.