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Excited Ocean, Excited Humpbacks, Excited Humans

diagram of humpback migration

March 11, 2024


Our weekend of Whale Watching started off with some pretty strong winds.

During Friday’s Wake up with the Whales Cruise, the wind was blowing a steady 25 knots with gusts over 45 knots. As is often the case when the surface of the ocean is excited, so are the whales. We saw at least 15 breaches during our cruise (including double breaches), and lots of pec slaps and tail lobs. Though none of this activity was particularly close to us, we were accompanied by a Mom and her calf who swam along our side 100 yards away for a good 5 minutes. We were being pushed by the wind, so we found it interesting that they chose to swim at the same speed that our boat was moving, clearly showing an interest in our presence.

During our Saturday Mid-Morning Whale Watch from Kawaihae, we saw spouts and dorsal fins and flukes in every direction. We chose to spend most of the cruise with two different Mom/Calf/Escort pods. We got to see a lot of interactions between the Moms and their calves at the surface including some rolling around and sideways swimming, but no aerial displays. Both these calves were pretty small compared to their Moms presumably meaning they’re pretty young too, so we’re hoping that this means they’ll be staying in our area for a few more weeks before beginning that migration back to the feeding grounds.

3 different Mom/calf duos found us right outside of the harbor on our Sunday Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise, including one that surfaced about 2 feet from our boat moments after we exited the harbor. Later, we watched an adult Humpback breach about a mile away but before we could travel to see him a bit closer,  we were distracted by a pod of Spinner Dolphins who swam over to check us out. It was ok that we missed seeing the adult breacher close-up though, because ultimately, we got to watch a calf breach at least 10 times just 100 yards from us creating quite the grand finale for this cruise.



Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Where do the Humpbacks go when they migrate away from Hawaii? Most of them appear to migrate directly north, to feeding grounds off of northern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska waters. But they can migrate to just about any location round the Pacific Rim — we know that at least one humpback satellite-tagged in Hawaii spent the summer in Russian waters.