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Whale Season Has Begun!

Well whale season 2015 is officially up and running!  This year begins a new chapter of whale watching for me as I begin the season with running the trips as a captain for the first time in my seven years as a whale naturalist.  So far we have had some exciting trips complete with the full run of behaviors: competition groups, mother/calf combos, escorts, adolescents, breaching, etc. etc. etc.  Another exciting aspect to the start of this season is that I was just published for the first time.  Check out the article here:

10 Reason To Go Whale Watching In Maui

Stay tuned as videos and pictures will start to roll in from this season.

Merry Christmas!

The Eye of A Whale

I have to admit, during our off season I do not check this blog very often. When the whales are gone, apparently, so am I! However, I have received a few comments recently which had reinvigorated me, and reinforced how very lucky I, along with my coleagues are, that we get to enjoy these animals when they migrate to our home.

At the moment, I am giddy for them to arrive. The first sighting has already occurred, about 2 weeks ago off of Kauai, but that does not mean I am any less excited for the first time I see my returning buddies!

After reading these recent comments, and reviewing the most recent footage, I remembered how special of an experience it is to look a whale in the eye. I recall once watching a very informative Hannah Bernard video (filmed in the early 80’s, clearly) which mentioned “looking into the eye of a whale is like looking into the eye of God.” Not being a very religious person, I didn’t connect with that too much at the time. Now, after having this experience several times for myself, I can truthfully say, it is unreal. In a single moment, a person can be humbled beyond any expectation of a humbled human life. To look a creature in the eye that is not only so large, but is also so old… is nothing short of magical. Even for the most non-beleiving among us, it would be hard to classify such an experience as anything less than spiritual.

For me, I realized in a very quick, very minute moment, that no matter how much science we have in our favor, we will never understand the world in which they live. We will never know what they know about our own planet. We will never see what they have seen. They live in a very close, yet a very alien world to us. I will forever consider them as inspirational, enduring, and incredibly wise creatures. I hope that the importance I place on these monumental examples of life that is sustained in our oceans will intrigue others, just enough, to make changes in their own lives to help this eco system prosper.

This, is my hope for our collective future.

Caleb’s Footage

I have not seen too many muggings so far this year, but fortunately some of my coworkers have! Check out Caleb’s footage from a whale watch a couple weeks ago…

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/86491383″>Whale Watch 2-11-14</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8667081″>Caleb Dunham</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

I can finally say that it now feels like whale season.  Although the calendar turns to December 15, it doesn’t always mean that the whales know that.  The last few days on the water, however, it has actually felt like my favorite time of year has begun.  Yesterday, we were crossing to Lana’i and had to stop several times for a variety of groups that popped up.  I had my first close encounter with a very active competition group.  There were a few boats watching them, we slowed as we approached and the female made a turn toward our boat, Trilogy VI. The five whales in the group, plus calf in tow, blew by our port side.  Mom was on a mission to get out of there, but hesitant to move too fast, in the event it would leave her little one behind. It was a “drive by” style sighting, but exciting to see.

Today, I worked a whale watch and sunset sail, on both trips we were focused on one group, while watching several others simultaneously.  Now, typically, this can be discouraging because it distracts our passengers from the main show which is right in front of us.  But seeing it today was reassuring and made me think that we have a good season coming our way.

No pictures or videos yet, but I am sure the good footage is just around the corner. Stay tuned…

The Time Has Arrived... It's December 15th!!!

That’s right, it’s officially the 2014 whale season!! Who’s excited?? Well, lots of new and fun stuff coming up. So far, I personally, have not seen too many whales. But, hopefully, this will change soon with the holiday tourist season starting to pick up this week, which for me translates to more water time. A few cool things to report still: orcas are in Maui (3 sightings so far), I saw my first competition group, some fisherman have been reporting sperm whale sightings south of Lana’i, and (my personal favorite) I got my captain’s license about a month ago!

There will be plenty to come in the next few days as we gear up for another amazing season. In the mean time, please enjoy the picture attached to this post. It is my prize shot from last season! I took it on my iPhone while using a Lifeproof case, amazing, right? I was pretty impressed especially since it was due to shear luck, no skill was involved in this… at all!

I’m happy to be back and to report regularly with the Maui whale activity… Cheers!

And So It Begins…

The first whale has been spotted off of the coast of Makena by Kai Kanani on October 6, 2013.  Although whale season has yet to officially begin, they are well on their way.  This is the time of year I get antsy with anticipation and have a constant grin on my face…they are almost here! Stay tuned for updates as the season progresses.

Competition groups are a difficult thing to judge sometimes.  When whales come together and fight for the right to mate with a female, the number in the group grows.  Especially once we have passed the peak of the season and the number of females in  the area begins to decline, the amount of aggression and activity from the males seems to increase drastically.  It is as if you can sense to desperation that the guys will have swam all this way and potentially leave without meeting a nice girl.  As the number in the group grows, it becomes more and more difficult to figure out exactly how many animals you are looking at.

I would imagine that we were looking at about 15-20 whales yesterday morning.  They were not especially active but as time passed we started to see it picking up.  We had to go but I kept hoping we would run into them later on once the battle really got going.  It is amazing anytime you can see animals of this size but when they come together in these large groups it always leaves me in awe.