Guests aboard Tuesday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise had plenty to look at.
Most of the whales we were watching were just offshore of the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, and since we departed from Kawaihae Harbor, we didn’t have to travel far to find them.
We spent considerable time with our favorite Humpback duo – Momma and her little calf. The calf was dancing around at the surface, spinning and twisting as he dove down to his Mom. We even got to see a few spy hops from the little guy — we weren’t sure if he was trying to spy hop to check us out, or if he was trying to do a little head lunge and kind of failed, but regardless, it was fun to see his rostrum above the surface.
When we weren’t watching this duo, we got to see some spouts and fluke dives from three solo adult Humpbacks. We also got to witness some interaction between 2 other adult Humpbacks. We couldn’t tell if we were watching 2 males who had joined up and were posturing for each other or forming a coalition with each other, or if we were watching a male and a female interacting the way male and female Humpbacks interact. For as long as we were able to observe them though, the two stayed together.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Generally, the longer a mammal lives, the more likely it is to develop chronic diseases like cancer. Since Humpbacks and many other baleen whales have lifespans equivalent to ours, when you think of it, it’s kind of amazing that they don’t get cancer. Recently researchers investigating this anomaly came up with a possible reason why we don’t see cancerous tumors in big baleen whales. It turns out that cetaceans have many more Tumor Suppressing Genes than humans, and that the turnover rate for these genes is 2.4 times faster than it is in other mammals (in other words, their genes continually “fight” tumor formation). As an aside, the researchers also found that mutations in the genes that are biomarkers for some common human cancers are also correlated with hair loss…and a lack of body hair is certainly noticeable among cetaceans. Interested in learning more? Click here to read the published research article.