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Archive for February, 2012

Today, as we left for our second whale watch of the day, we very quickly came across a classic example of a “calf presentation”.  The cow and calf that we came across slowly approached our boat.  We were down wind and kept getting pushed back from the pair, yet they continued to follow us.  They eventually came over, nice and close. It was a moment where you can relate to these enormous animals and you can see exactly what is going on in their minds.  The mother was introducing her very young baby to a boat.  You could almost hear the lesson as they began to make a complete circle around our vessel, “This is a boat.  There are a lot of them out there that you will see in your long life.  Stay away from these spinning things, they will hurt you.  Oh yeah, and the animals on these boats start to act funny if you get close enough.  Other than that, they are not too bad.”

That’s how I imagine the conversation would go, anyway 🙂

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Today was not the most exciting of whale watching days.  Pretty slow, actually with relatively little activity considering this is now peak season.  But there was one point during today, in which I could not act like a normal person.  I was losing it, and my heart was racing.  We had two whales approach us.  Both adults, we weren’t able to determine the sex on either of these guys.  But, they stayed very close to one another.  For the majority of our encounter, one was swimming on top of the other.

When they initially approached, they were at out 4 o’clock position (think of the boat like a clock) and just paused, side by side.  They continued to stare at us for a solid ten minutes.  It was like a very long, drawn out, starring contest with these two, 50 ton animals. I have said many times before that I love to see spy hopping.  As the whales came around the back of the boat, that’s exactly what they started to do. Simultaneously. One whale came particularly high out of the water on a few occasions. They ended up hanging out with us for about a half hour.  I can’t say enough, just how much I love my job!

The conditions today were amazing.  Well over 100 foot visibility, flat as a lake, just perfect.  And today was the first time this season my absolute, favorite thing happened.  I made eye contact with one of the whales.  I struggle to describe the sense of calm, and awe, and mystery, and humility that comes over you when this happens. These animals know so much more about our world then we ever will. I suppose I am a bit jealous of them in that moment, too. To know all that they know, would be an incredible thing.

The pic above shows the rainbow produced from the exhale.  The one below shows how close these guys really were.  Check out the gallery for a few more shots from today and also from Thursday.

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Yesterday we got mugged, big time. The trip we were on was actually a snorkel trip, but on the way back from Olowalu we came across some very curious whales.  We had no idea that they were going to get this close to us.  The video I have posted here is a little deceiving, I don’t know a lot about cameras, but I am told my GoPro has a very wide angle lens, and makes things look farther away than they actually are.  I assure you, if my arm had been 4 feet longer, I would have touched this whale! At one point I thought he was going to nudge the boat hook my camera was attached to. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, these animals are amazing and I hope I can share my excitement with you through this video.  Please pay special attention to how often the whale looks directly at the camera. It makes you wonder, who’s watching who??

 

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On Wednesday we came across a strange little whale the other day.  A research group was utilizing one of UFO parasails boats and the whale was basically rubbing his head and pec fins on the boat itself.  We were standing by watching this take place and completely jealous he hadn’t chosen our boat instead.  But soon enough he came over closer to us, and although he was touching our boat, he put on quite the show. Now, one reason this encounter was so interesting was because when male whales sing their infamous “song” they usually go head down, tail up.  This happens between 50 – 100 feet underwater.  This whale went into that position but was not singing, but just hanging about 10 feet from the surface for us to enjoy.  He would then slowly come up, tail first, breathe and resume his same position.  We decided to call him Justin Blubber.

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Whale Tales 2012 was a huge success! It was an amazing day, this was the first year I was actually able to get work off and enjoy such a wonderful event.  I contacted Whale Trust’s Meagan Jones about getting involved in their non-profit and she got me onboard to help out and volunteer.  Every person I met was so wonderful and it became clear very quickly how much of their lives they have dedicated to learning about our world.

This was a two day event that was filled with lectures from many of the top whale researchers around the world to educate the local community about the newest information to come from recent whale seasons.  It was incredible to learn about the methods used for disentangling a whale, to hear how Jim Darling’s data contributed to saving a small population of Gray whales, how confusing of a topic Humpback mating still is, and the predatory tactics of transient orcas were just of few of the highlights for me. Not to mention, of course, meeting some of these researchers.  That was the ultimate, like A-List celebrity sightings, in the whale world!

Bruce Mate ended the lectures with a very inspiring request.  He asked that all of us consider putting a portion of our life’s total worth toward the environment.  The majority of the audience was an older crowd, 50’s plus.  He asked that we all put it into our will that we will pledge 10% to saving our planet.  The message basically stated that it doesn’t matter which part of the environment is your favorite, or which part you’d most like to preserve, but to help save one part, will help to save it all.

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