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How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

Humpback spouting

December 22, 2023


We spent some time with a half dozen Humpbacks on Thursday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise.

We found all of our whales between Kawaihae and Puako, and they all must have been happy there because they never left the area the entire time we were out at sea watching them.

Our Humpbacks were all big adults (45+ feet long by our estimation), and all in pods of 2. We didn’t witness any interaction between the pods, but the intra-pod interaction seemed strong as each duo surfaced, spouted and sounded virtually simultaneously.

Each of the pods was on a 15 minute dive cycle. To be honest, 15 minutes seems like a long time to hold your breath, but if you’re a Humpback, that’s nothing (see today’s Fact of the Day for more on that)!

About half way into our trip, all 6 whales surfaced at the same time, but since the pods weren’t close together, we had to look everywhere at once in order to see them all. For most of our cruise, all the pods stayed about 500 yards from us, but we got a couple of good sightings when they swam within 200 yards of our idling boat.



Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: A fully grown Humpback Whale can hold his or her breath for around 45 minutes. Usually, that’s not what we observe in Hawaii though. We’re more likely to witness 10-20 minute breath hold dives, and if the whale is really active, s/he surfaces to breathe a lot more frequently.