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Posts Tagged ‘Humpback Whales’

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.

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After years of watching these giant creatures, I am still reminded, each day, of why I respect them and am in awe of them.  I think for all of us whale lovers, there is a pivotal moment that catches our attention and makes us interested for life.  I had this type of experience on my very first whale watch, which in hindsight, led me to create this site and always seek jobs that have allowed me to whale watch.  I continue to experience these moments out in the Maui Nui Basin, the only difference being, it’s not my first rodeo anymore.

Two days ago, we had a whale deliberately approach the boat.  He very obviously turned, approached, and hung out.  Our captain mentioned that this was the same whale he had seen the day before.  To me, certain whale encounters are remarkable and will never leave my memory bank.  Do whales have the same experience with us?  Is it possible they remember our boats? The sounds of our engines?  Or, perhaps, if they don’t remember, do they instead have engine noises they are more attracted to?  Dr. Jim Darling recently made a comparison from whales to dogs.  He claimed that dogs live in a world of scent that is 10,000 x greater than what we know, they beleive the same is true of whales and sound.  Maybe the smallest click makes a difference and interests them more than another boat.

At each company I have worked for, there has always been the cliche, “Whales love (insert boat name here.)”  They have each been of the belief that there is one boat in their fleet that the whales prefer over any other. Maybe this is the case.  Personal experience certainly backs this up.  But maybe it is observational bias, the idea that we want them to like the boat we are on and the company we work for.  Who knows? But until they tell me otherwise, I choose to beleive they remember us, our enthusiasm, and the love we have for them.

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Yesterday was an especially windy day off of Ka’anapali Beach.  I worked the first two whale watches of the day, and we had the best two breaches I have seen so far this season.  During our first trip we had come across a mom, calf, and male escort.  The cow and calf were up ahead, heading into the wind line and toward Moloka’i.  As the escort trailed behind, trying to catch up, he breached.  A perfectly centered at 12 o’clock, 60 yards out, amazing breach!  He did another one at about 100 yards before picking up the pace and catching up to the mom and calf.

The second trip was a bit slow but the action we did see was incredible.  We found another group of three, same cow, calf, escort scenario.  The cow and calf seemed to be trying to get some distance from the escort and they passed under our bow.  As they were beginning to surface on our port side, the male breached on our starboard side – at 20 yards!! The kind of closeness that makes you scream out in surprise and leaves all the passengers with jaws dropped in disbelief.  A girl on the boat was able to capture it on her standard point and shoot camera.  She had never been on a whale watch and had never tried to take a wildlife photo before, it made me a little jealous.  I have now been doing whale watches for five seasons, and still have never taken a breach shot.  I have given up actually.  After the first three seasons of only taking off center, crooked, pictures of water and splashes, I decided it was time to retire my camera.  I digress, but needless to say, I am hoping she sends it to me!

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1.17.2013 was another fun day on the water. It seems this season has been true to our model of a typical whale season – similar to a bell curve, beginning in December, peaking in February, and coming to a close at the end of April. Last year, it seemed there were several ups and downs throughout the season, where as this season seems to have returned to our “typical” season. Enjoy my newest video of underwater footage.

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As we left Ka’anapali beach on Wednesday, we noticed a raft getting mugged by an adolescent. We kept our distance and eventually shut the boat down as we got within range. The wind slowly set us in closer to the boat and our whale, and the show began. This whale was very much in love with the raft and had been with them for almost 30 minutes. This whale seemed strictly interested in the raft, and once there was a bit of space between the raft and whale, the raft left. With his newly found love interest gone, our male stuck around long enough to try and splash us (Sea World style), before taking off. He left us as a boat full of passengers with perm-smiles! Another great day in the Maui Nui Basin.

Check it out…

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One of our passengers was able to capture this picture of an extremely mangled tail we saw on one of our trips, entirely putting the plane wing to shame! This picture really makes me wonder…what the heck happened?!

PHOTO PROVIDED BY: Allen Clark / Photoboat.com

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Recently we saw a cow/calf/escort combo and the baby was copying the tail throws of the male.  It appeared to be learning from the male, similar to how we assume the female teaches her baby.  It’s possible the calf is a sponge at this age, like our babies are, and can learn from anything in their environment. Check out the video below!

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