Humpback Excitement (or Irritation)
January 17, 2024
The ocean was a bit bouncy during Tuesday’s Private Whale Watch Cruise from Kawaihae, and that may have energized the Humpbacks because we got to see quite a lot of surface activity. We spent most of our time with a Mom/Calf/Escort pod who were hanging out about a mile offshore of the Mauna Kea Beach Resort.
Momma and her calf were breaching a lot — maybe directing all that energy towards the escort. If they were trying to drive him away though, it didn’t work — at least while we were watching. When Momma tired of breaching she did some repetitive pec slapping for awhile too.
When we could tear our eyes away from the action in front of us, we saw spouts from multiple Humpbacks in all directions. Towards the end of our cruise 2 other adult Humpbacks surfaced and crossed our bow (we were in neutral at the time) only about 30 yards away and heading towards our Mom and calf. We really wished we could have stuck around to see what happened when all those whales met up!
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: Humpback Whales (and, in fact, all Baleen Whales) demonstrate something called “reverse sexual size dimorphism”. This means that an adult female Humpback is larger than an adult male (by about 5%). Though researchers are not sure of the exact reason for the difference in size, they theorize that the increased size allows the female to store more reserves to feed and care for her calf, and also to give birth to a bigger calf who might have a better chance of survival than a smaller one. Average length for a fully grown female Humpback is around 45 – 50 feet. At her heaviest, she weighs 35 – 40 tons.