Guests on Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise were MUGGED by a curious Humpback. But before I get to that, I’ll tell you what else we got to see.
Over the course of the cruise we found 10 different Humpbacks, including a Mom/Baby pair who were resting just offshore of Anaeho’omalu Bay. We never want to disrupt a calf, so we hovered in the area for just a few of his dive cycles. We also got to watch 4 adult Humpbacks surfacing and diving together (they weren’t really “competing” but they definitely were interacting).
Now…on to the “mugging” (see today’s Fact of the Day for more on this).
A sub-adult Humpback (about 25 feet long) approached our boat and spent more than an hour with us. Besides swimming underneath the boat (staying within 10 feet of the surface at each pass), he also spent some time looking at us. We got to see a spy hop (one of our favorite behaviors — that’s when the whale slowly and vertically rises out of the water until his eyes are above the surface to look at something — in this case, at us). He also blew some bubble rings, slapped his flukes on the surface, and even rolled around on the surface a few times. When we finally ran out of time and had to head back to the bay, “our” whale didn’t seem too happy to see us leave. In fact, he actually followed us for awhile as we drove away. None of us was sure if he was lonely, or bored, or what exactly was going through his head, but all of us agreed that we enjoyed sharing the morning with him.
On Saturday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch, we struggled to parallel a lone Humpback who seemed to be on a mission. This whale was heading north at 7 knots, surfacing for a couple of breaths every 5 minutes and then disappearing again. We had no idea where he was headed in such a hurry, as we didn’t see evidence of any other whales ahead of us.
After this cruise de-boarded, we headed out again on a Private Whale Watch Cruise. We weren’t too far out of the harbor before we were surrounded by a pod of curious Spinner Dolphins (I say “curious” because they came to us to play in our wakes). After watching the dolphins for awhile, we caught sight of our traveling Humpback from the first cruise. He was still moving north, and still surfacing and taking a couple of breaths every 5 minutes, so after cruising parallel to him for awhile, we veered off and headed towards shallower water where we saw spouts from Mom and baby Humpback. As we got closer to them, baby was very excited to see us (either that, or he was just burning off some calories and acting like the little kid he was) — we got to see him breach at least 15 times — maybe 20 — before we had to turn the boat and head back to the harbor.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: The whales “mugging” us are definitely taking a look at us. Though Humpbacks rely on their sense of hearing far more than any other sense, we do know that vision is also important to them. Based on the shape of the Humpbacks’ corneas, they can certainly see us…but, they’re probably a bit farsighted when looking through water and a bit nearsighted when looking through the air. And in case anyone asks you, Humpbacks have beautiful brown eyes. Their eyeballs weigh, on average, 2.16 pounds. Human eyeballs weigh about a quarter of an ounce.