Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Day with the Humpback Whales

Things I learned on a recent whale watching tour... and some things they didn't tell us beforehand.

If you want to have a front row seat, you have to arrive real early... not five minutes before departure. The larger the vessel, the earlier you will want to come. Otherwise the best seats will be taken and you will have people in front of you in your photos. (this is not my photo... it is what they show online.)

The boat was very large and safe... and there were over forty whale watchers on board with us. We did the tour on motor power... this was not a sailing adventure... but it was a lot of fun.

They show photos online of whales close to the boat... but this kind of activity is rare. Of the 432 photos that I took this tour, you will see that my photos are all at least 300 feet away from the whales!

Using the iPhone panorama feature on a rocking vessel gives an interesting horizon line of Maui.  This was taken off the back of the boat as we were heading out from the Lahaina dock.

As we were leaving one of the first things they told us was the 300-foot rule. If they see a whale at 300 feet way or less they shut off the engines and watch... hoping the whale will approach the boat.

300 feet is the length of a foot ball field... between the uprights at each end.  Good luck getting great shots of whales with your smart phone!  During the Super Bowl on Sunday take a look at how far away we were from the whales.

Whale watching season is a winter sport here.  These large close-up shots are from the whale watching site. We saw over 100 events... breaching, leaping and slapping; there was a lot of activity.

The whales migrate to Maui from Alaska... and November thru April is prime watching season in Maui. These adult whales take about five to eight weeks to make the trip to Maui... travelling between 3 to 5 miles per hour.  They love to come to Maui to breed and to have their babies in the warm 70 degree water.

Where does the Humpback whale come from?  Since many of the humpback whales are born here in Maui waters... I think we can say they come from Maui.

We had more than a full hour of interaction and education with a whale biologist who shared a lot of facts about the whales. For example he asked us if we knew why the whales don't eat during their time in Maui. It is because the cost of food in Hawaii is so high!

What really happens is these whales bulk up when in Alaska waters so when they return they can survive in Hawaii without eating.

The newborn calves, however, will consume 100 gallons of milk daily and gain about 7 pounds every hour. When born they are 10-12 feet long... and grow about an inch every day. A full grown adult humpback whale weighs about 40 tons... and the females are usually larger than the the males.

Why Maui? The humpbacks seem to like the shallow 300-foot max depth water between Maui and Lanai.  It is a safer environment for them to mate and give birth and nurse their young... free of predators.

The humpbacks are well known for their mating songs... you can listen to them on YouTube.

There is another hour long You tube if you care to use it to fall asleep... it is quite relaxing. The one above is only a couple of minutes...

We could not have had a more sunny, warm day for whale watching!

Shirley, and granddaughter Lucy.

As we were coming back our grandson Seth was sitting near the front and the wind caught some of the waves... gave him a soaking on one side!

They served us complimentary beverages on board and a light snack.. but some girls had more than a few too many drinks!

Almost back. Alan in the lower middle with black cap... Sherilee and Seth on the front to the boat (centre.) 

Lahaina, which 200 years ago was a huge whaling industry, today is still in the whaling industry, in a slightly different venue. Whale watching today is a leading tourist attraction.

Can you believe I didn't even bring my Nikon?

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