Archive for December, 2010

Baby Humpbacks are born weighing 1 and 1/2 tons.  Scientists believe that the female whales are larger because of the enormity of their calves.  They need to be larger to carry a calf safely to term.

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On Thursday we went out on an exciting adventure.  We loaded the Kaulana up with several hundred Princess Cruise guests and went out in search of our whales.  On the third trip of the day we had a very special experience, something that typically happens frequently during peak season, but since it is still the middle of December we were pretty lucky.

Two full grown adults were spotted near our boat, as they approached we turned off our engines (the protective laws in place say that captains must disengage their engines once the whales come within 100 yards of a vessel).  The sun was in just the right place to shine down straight through the water.  In the early morning, there is a lot of glare on the surface because of the placement of the sun, but as the sun rises, glare is reduced and you can see much further into the sapphire waters.

We lost sight of the animals for a few minutes and then saw the neon glow under our boat.  Looking at a humpback, you will notice that nothing in its coloring could be described as “neon.”  However, on the underside of a whale’s pectoral fins, and parts of their tales and bellies, they have white markings.  When these white parts are facing up, and the sun is just right, it reflects the color of the water off of the white, and appears as if there is a neon teal animal floating below.

These two particular adults stayed under our boat for several minutes not moving.  I can only guess, based on the size of the black outline, that they were at least 50 feet deep, and we could still see them perfectly!  When they did come towards the surface they were a bit further away, about 20 feet, but close enough for the passengers to walk away with amazing pictures and some fabulous memories!

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Aren’t you hungry?

The Maui Nui Basin is known for its beautiful, sparkling, crystal blue water.  Unfortunately for the humpbacks, such warm water also means less nutrients.  When a body of water has fewer nutrients it can only support less complex eco-systems, meaning that there are  no large schools of fish.  This is primarily what humpback whales feed on: large schools of small fish.

From the time our humpbacks begin their migration, until they return to Alaska, they do not feed.  It is roughly three months round trip, and females will typically lose 1/3 of their body weight by the time they return to the Alaskan waters!

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On Monday we went out on the 7:30 AM run and within moments of leaving Lahaina harbor, saw the first spout about 350 yards off.  As we headed over, there were no other real signs that whales were in the area.  As we waited out the down time, (humpbacks stay under for predictable periods with every dive) finally two adults and a calf surfaced.  Based on the behaviors the calf was displaying we know that he was no more than one week old.

The calf was playing around, twirling in the water, staying towards the surface to breathe but never doing any specific communication maneuvers.  There were no tail throws, no pectoral fins slapping, these are signs that the babies muscles are more developed and slightly older, this was not the case for our calf.  He was however very playful and quite surface active considering his limited motor skills.

This group staying with us throughout the cruise and put on a great show despite the fact that the season hasn’t officially begin!


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Female humpbacks are larger than males.  The females grow to be 50 feet in length while males are closer to 40 feet.

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We are just beginning to enter the 2011 Whale Season here in Maui — official season begins on December 15. Peak season occurs between mid-February and the end of March, but there will be plenty of amazing whale experiences throughout the season! Currently, we are running 2 whale watches per day, that will soon change to 4 per day once the official season begins.

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