Lone Humpback Sticks Around
December 19, 2023
We operated two Whale Watch Cruises on Monday — both departed from Anaeho’omalu Bay and since the second one departed just an hour after the first one returned, it’s no surprise that we found ourselves watching the same Humpback during both cruises.
We spent most of our time on our 8AM Wake up with the Whales Cruise watching a lone juvenile Humpback who was surfacing, spouting, and lifting his flukes before diving. We found this whale in between the Hilton Waikoloa Beach Resort and the Mauna Lani, and since he wasn’t travelling much while underwater, we got to see him at least 4 different times. While we were waiting for him to surface, we scanned the horizon and saw spouts from what looked like a group of 3 whales a bit further away.
Since our juvenile Humpback seemed to be happy staying where he was, we followed our instincts and took a right hand turn as we left the bay for our 10:30 Late-Morning Whale Watch Cruise. Our instincts paid off when we found our whale pretty much exactly where we had left him during the first cruise — in front of the Mauna Lani Resort. Once again, we got some great sightings of him as he surfaced and spouted. He was on 10 minute dive cycles, and while we got to see his flukes when he sounded, he never really lifted them very high into the air, so we weren’t able to identify his fluke patterns (see today’s Fact of the Day for more on this). We also got to see another whale spouting about 3/4 of a mile from us, but we didn’t have time to travel out there to check him out.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: One of the best ways whale watchers have to identify individual Humpbacks is by the unique markings on the ventral (underside) of their flukes (tails). Currently, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory based in Seattle maintains a data base containing more than 30,000 photos of the North Pacific Humpbacks flukes dating back to 1966, but other researchers, including those involved in the 3 season SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) project have also used these patterns to identify who’s who in the whale world and estimate population levels. You can help researchers tracking Humpbacks too. If you get a good photo of the underside of a Humpback’s fluke, you can submit it to HappyWhale.com.