Weekend Sightings – Lots of Competition
January 15, 2024
After a turbulent week of weather, we were finally able to get back onto the ocean this weekend.
Guests joining us on Saturday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise got to see a lot. Besides the couple of Humpbacks who were breaching about a mile to our northwest, we also saw spouts and flukes from around a dozen other Humpbacks all around us.
We spent most of our time though with a pod of three whales. Based on the rather aggressive behavior we were witnessing, we guessed we were watching two males trying to establish dominance around a not-so-interested female. All three of them were twisting and turning around each other at the surface, and all three were breathing hard. Though we couldn’t tell what was happening when they were underwater, the fact that they surfaced almost simultaneously and very close together sure made it seem like the battle continued below the surface too.
We saw some splashing just south of Kawaihae Harbor as we departed for Sunday’s Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise so we took a left hand turn out of the Harbor and headed that way. We spent the entire cruise with these splashers who turned out to be a competitive pod of six BIG Humpbacks. While we watched, these whales chased each other around a lot and were never underwater for more than about 6 minutes. Just like what we saw on Saturday, our Sunday whales were twisting and turning around each other every time they came to the surface (and probably doing the same thing while they were underwater). We heard lots of trumpeting as they tried to catch their breath from all that exertion Towards the end of our cruise, the whales started heading north (which is also the way we had to go). We actually had to go out to sea and give them a wide berth so we could get back into the harbor.
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: We know Humpbacks are big animals, but it’s not until we have a CLOSE ENCOUNTER that we really appreciate how big they are. But Humpbacks are only the 5th largest of the great whales — Blue whales, Finbacks, Grays, and Right Whales (including Bowheads) are all longer (on average)– and if you want to count the toothed whales in the list, male Sperm Whales are longer too.