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Archive for January, 2011

***Please check out the following video.  The odd noise comes right around the one minute mark.***

After we moved on from the breaching calf, we came across a single adolescent male.  Yearlings (so named because they are a year old and it is their first trip back to Hawaii after being born) and other young whales are among my favorites.  They truly appear to be confused when they are here and just generally do not know what to do with themselves.  The whale we encountered was a male, which is what I would have assumed but for the first time I was able to know this for sure based on the animals anatomy.  He swam right by the boat, belly up, and you could see that there was no hemispherical lobe.  This lobe around the genital slit is the only way to differentiate between males and females.

He mugged us, checked us out, and then as he swam toward a raft near by he let out the strangest noise.  Often times as the whales exhale they create a trumpet noise, similar to elephants.  This particular noise was while he was inhaling and has been described as similar to a burp or a dog growling.  I do have it on video and am hoping to post it, but there are a few logistics I need to figure out in order to get it posted.

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Yesterday proved to be a relatively slow day on the water.  We had a few good showings but the overwhelming victor was the first trip of the day.  The water was unbelievably glassy, as you can tell by the picture above.  I actually found my mind drifting back to lakes during the summer time in california and how I wished I had a ski boat and a waterski with me.  I quickly snapped out of it, however, when the action started.

During the first portion of the trip we had a baby breach several times.  Seeing this is similar to watching a small kid surf, it’s cute, and it’s endearing, but then at some point you realize that they’re actually incredible, and oddly athletic, for his or her age.  It still makes you question the physics of it all and how it’s possible that something so small can be developed enough to execute something so difficult and with such precision.

This little one just looked like a flying pickle shooting out of the water, time and time again. This picture is off of my camera (compliments of Andrew) and shows the baby, with the mom lurking below.  The glowing beneath the water is the left pectoral fin of our calf’s mother.  This is the first breach captured on my camera, unfortunately, I cannot take credit for it!

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Please check out the merchandise page to take a look at our new shirts that are available in all sizes! The I<3 Whales design also comes in Youth Large.

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I have claimed for quite sometime that I am not a good photographer.  It is something I am very interested in learning more about but, especially when it comes to wild life, I am utterly lost.  Typically, the boat will rock at the worst time, my camera is too slow, I zoom in too much and miss something… there is a wide range of issues I have.  Yesterday, however, I caught a great shot.

We have been seeing a lot of competition pods in the last week.  A competition pod is one of the two times humpbacks come together in large numbers (the other is for feeding in Alaska).  Here in Maui the males will follow a single female, all competing for her attention and hoping to be the one she selects to mate with (although recent research has shown she may not just select a single male, but rather several).  Comp pods tend to be aggressive, fast paced, and erratic in their heading or direction.

This picture very clearly shows a male that has filled his ventral pleats (the elastic pleats under his chin) to appear larger to the female he is pursuing. I do not remember seeing this happen very frequently last season, but I have seen it several times already this year.

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This Just In!

Our shirts have been printed and will be picked up tomorrow! I will post pictures and prices shortly, thank you for your patience!

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Each year there are return customers who come out on the water with us everyday, usually for the first two trips of the day for the best part of the season.  Two of those ladies are a mother and daughter named Midge and Marge.  These ladies have been coming to Maui to enjoy the whales for upwards of 35 years.  Their knowledge and dedication to these amazing creatures is inspiring.  Not only are they wonderfully kind hearted ladies, but they are also amazing photographers, often times finding it difficult whether to take a flip video, shoot with the SLR camera, pull out the point and shoot, or just use the cell phone to document the action.

Their love of these animals began when Midge’s husband needed to relax and take some time away from the office.  After taking a few months each year to hang out with the humpbacks, Midge knows that is was these animals that saved her husband’s life.  Her connection and genuine love is obvious every morning that she walks onto the Kaulana.

I first met Midge, Marge, and Midge’s other daughter Sue, last year. Recently, Marge was showing me pictures from last season and she was generous enough to share with me the jackpot from last season.  Midge captured a full breach with such precision, she would give most wild life photographers a run for their money!  It’s an honor for us to have them on our boat each day.  Hopefully soon I will have a picture of the ladies to share with you.

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Today as we went out, the conditions were miserable.  It began to rain right as we were leaving the harbor, every passenger was seated downstairs and no one wanted to leave the comfort of the lower cabin.  I was gearing up for the trip to be a bit of an awkward one, I feared no one would go outside and I would have to just talk about whales for 2 hours to people who didn’t want to get a little wet.

We went out toward Lanai, the captain made an announcement that he was watching a whale breach and that we should risk entering the Maui rain to see what he was talking about.  Slowly, passengers began to exit the cabin to check it out, and as it turned out, we ended up seeing something I have never seen before.

The animals we approached were a mother and her calf.  Although the calf looked small, he was coordinated and appeared to have very well refined motor skills.  After watching mom breach, then baby head lunge, then mom slap her pectoral fin… it happened.  Simultaneously, the mother and calf breached together in unison, in what can only be described as flawless timing.  Seeing this is an indescribable event.  Like seeing two olympic divers leave their respective boards and enter the water together as a mirror image of the other. This will certainly be remembered in the top five of my favorite whale encounters!

 

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