Captain Dan's Blog

November 30th, 2017

November 30th, 2017

Following another exciting summer/fall season in the northern Pacific waters, where he observed and studied two very different but extraordinary species of whales, the Orca and the Humpback, Captain Dan McSweeney has returned to Hawaii for his 46th(?) winter to continue his work with the mighty Humpback whales. It should be noted that his 2017 summer/fall studies in the waters off Washington State and Canada were not without awe, including documenting behaviors of Orca seldom seen before as well as filming giant groups of feeding Humpback whales preparing to make their 3,000 mile journey southward to their breeding grounds.
During the past several weeks the number of Humpbacks returning to Hawaii has steadily increased. Observations of some of these giant baleen whales were as early as October this year off the Kona waters of the Big Island. Although the highest number of whale sightings typically occur in January, February, and March, females will arrive much earlier to give birth and rear their young in Hawaii’s warm oceanic playground. Often, the mothers and calves can be seen playing atop the water, with fins slapping the ocean and tails rising out of the water. These mothers are as much as 40 feet long and may weigh 80,000 pounds when they arrive. Although their calves at birth will be a mere 11-16 feet long and weigh about 2000 pounds, they will gain weight rapidly and within a year may triple in size. Further, pod clusters of six or more humpback whales as well as solo males have been spotted as they sing the mysterious humpback song.

Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch aboard the Lady Ann will begin its 2017/18 season in mid-December as these enormous marine mammals continue to increase in number and visibility. Many other whales can also be seen, including a rare toothed-whale species, the giant Sperm Whale – easy to identify and amazing to observe. A pod of this species has already made its presence known this year in the deeper waters beyond the Humpback nursery and swimming areas. Pilot Whales, smaller than the Humpback and Sperm Whale, but unique in that they travel in groups that can number as many as thirty, can often be seen playing and resting in the waters around the island. As always, the whales are sometimes joined by spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins that love to play in the wake of the Lady Ann. It is also not uncommon to see sea turtles, flying fish, and whale sharks from the boat.
Captain McSweeney’s Whale watch guarantees whale sightings. However, if you happen to be on the rare trip where a whale is not sighted, you will be given a second excursion at our expense on our next available trip and treated with the same warm hospitality. All our trips include cool refreshments, fresh snacks, and cold hand towels as well as science and natural history information given personally by Captain Dan himself and supplemented by his well-educated crew.
When it comes to whale watching, we have found that a commonly asked question is, “Which type of trip is better for observing whales – the two-hour whale watch trips or the longer three-hour trips like Captain McSweeney’s Whale Watch provides?” That is a very good question. We understand that whales are wild creatures that move around a big ocean environment. As with watching any wild creature – the more time you have to watch, the more you are likely to see and experience. If you are limited by time and want only a “glimpse” of some whales spouting in the distance, the shorter whale watching tours might be for you. However, if you want a chance to “watch” whale behaviors such as fin slapping, courtship, and breaching – while you are learning the science – Captain McSweeney’s Whale Watch is the one you would enjoy. This whale watch also provides incredible and often breathtaking photo opportunities that you won’t want to miss.
Captain Dan will begin running his regular morning tours on Thursday, December 14th this year. Each trip yields unexpected surprises as we never know exactly what we will see. As an extra bonus when you book with Captain Dan, you will receive a stunning complimentary picture of a whale he personally photographed on one of his whale trips!
Its best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge your whale watching desires, call us directly at 808-322-0028 or toll free at 888-942-5376 or simply click the Make a Reservation icon to the left of the screen on our web site www.ilovewhales.com. If you want the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, nice lighting for getting great pictures, and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. Dan offers both a 7am and 11am departure. Both trips are 3 hours in length. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits of Captain Dan’s 45 years of knowledge and experience around these wild and fascinating creatures!

January 23rd, 2017

January 23rd, 2017

As the new year begins, sightings of migrating Humpback whales continue to increase, as the magnificent Megaptera novaeangliae makes its 3,000 mile trip south from the frigid waters of its north Pacific feeding grounds. As the warmer and clearer waters of Hawaii beckon this threatened species to its breeding grounds along the coastal shorelines of the Hawaiian islands, single adults, female and calf pairs, and groups have already been seen from the deck of the Lady Ann just this month. Although the whales have trended more offshore than nearshore, that will likely change as the peak of the migration kicks in during the months of February and March.
Exciting looks have included mother and calf pairs with their “escort” whales, as the trio is usually seen swimming closer into shore. Both male and female whales have also been seen joining larger groups as they chase each other in what is referred to as “surface active groups”. These are often great opportunities to see favorite Humpback whale behavior, including full-body breaches, flipper slapping, and tail lobbing. Another highlight is having the ability to listen to “singing” male humpbacks from the comfort of your seat on board. Dropping our underwater microphone (hydrophone) has brought their mysterious songs booming over the Lady Ann’s speakers, much to the auditory amazement of the passengers. Bottlenose and Spinner dolphins have been frequently encountered in the same area as the Humpbacks, and sometimes seen frolicking among them, and riding the pressure wave that the whales push ahead of themselves as they swim around.
One of the many reasons that makes Hawaii a unique place for watching and studying whales, is the diversity of whale species that can be seen. Just this season we have already encountered other cetacean species, all within camera range, as large clusters of Hawaiian Pilot whales, False Killer whales, and Spotted dolphins have been seen in the calm offshore waters off the Kona/Kohala coastlines. If we are lucky, we might catch an occasional glimpse of giant Sperm whales (Moby Dick fame) with their huge head and forward facing spouts.
Our trips have also been greeted by some of the seldom seen Whale sharks. Although it is difficult to predict where one might sight them, they have large dorsal fins, white-spotted bodies, and will often turn and approach boats at close range. This season we have been close enough to see their adornments of ramoras or “sucker fish” hanging on around the giant shark’s head and mouth. Whale sharks, the largest fish on earth, are harmless. They get their name because they’re a filter-feeding shark and can be the size of large whales (35’ to 40’). Winter also brings large schools of mating Hammerhead sharks to near shore Hawaiian waters and our guests have spotted their distinct dorsal fins breaking through surface waters as we search for our Humpback whales.

It’s best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, call us directly at 808-322-0028 or toll free at 888-942-5376 or simply click the Make a Reservation tab on the left of the screen on our website www.ilovewhales.com. If you want the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, nice lighting for getting great pictures and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. Captain Dan offers both a 7AM and 11AM departure. Both trips are 3 hours in length. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits of Captain Dan’s 45 years of knowledge and experience around these wild creatures!

November 28th, 2016

November 30th, 2016

After a summer and fall observing stunning and intelligent Orca whales, and feeding Humpbacks in Washington State and Southeast Alaska, Captain Dan McSweeney has come home to Hawaii to continue his work with the mighty Humpback whales. For several weeks now, the number of Humpbacks returning to Hawaii has steadily increased. Although January, February and March are their biggest migration months, there have already been sightings of cows arriving to give birth and rear their young, as recently born calves discover a warm oceanic playground. The mothers and calves can often be seen playing atop the water, with fins slapping the ocean and tails rising out of the water. These mothers are as much as 40 feet long and weigh 80,000 pounds when they arrive. At birth,their calves are a mere 11-16 feet long and weigh about 2,000 pounds, but will gain weight rapidly, and within a year be difficult to distinguish from other juvenile whales. In addition, pods of 6 or more humpback whales and lone males have been spotted as they sing the mysterious humpback song while searching for a mate.
Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch will begin their Humpback season mid-December as the Humpbacks continue increase in number and visibility. In addition, the giant Sperm Whale, easy to identify and amazing to observe, has made its presence known in the deeper waters beyond the Humpback nursery and swimming areas. Pilot Whales, smaller than the Humpback and Sperm Whale, but unique in that they travel in groups that can number as many as 30, are also playing in the waters around the island. As always, the whales are sometimes joined by spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphins that love to play in the wake of the Whale Watch boat.
Captain McSweeney’s Whale Watch guarantees whale sightings. However, if you happen to be on the rare trip where a whale is not sighted, you will be given a second excursion at our expense on our next available trip, and treated with the same warm hospitality, as is the norm on all our trips. Each trip includes cool refreshments and snacks, as well as educational information given first by Captain Dan himself and supplemented by his engaging and well-educated crew.
We find that a commonly asked question when it comes to whale watching is, “Which is better to see the whales – the 2.0 hour whale watch trips or the longer 3 hour trips like Captain McSweeney’s Whale Watch provides?” That is a very good question. In answer, we understand that whales are wild creatures that move around a big ocean environment. As with watching any wild creature, the longer you have to watch the more likely you are to see. If you are limited by time and want only a “glimpse” of some whales spouting in the distance, then the shorter whale watches might be for you. However, if you want a chance to “watch” whale behaviors develop from simple swimming and spouting to fin slapping and breaching; or if you would like breathtaking photo opportunities; the kind of trip Captain McSweeney’s Whale Watch provides is the one you would enjoy.
Captain Dan begins running regular morning tours on Thursday, December 15th this year. Each trip yields unexpected surprises as we never know exactly what we will see. To top it off, when you book with Captain Dan, you receive a stunning complimentary 8×10 color photo of a whale that he personally took on one of his whale trips!
Its best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, call us directly at 808-322-0028 or toll free at 888-942-5376, or simply click the Make a Reservation tab to the left of the screen on our website at www.ilovewhales.com. If you want the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, nice lighting for getting great pictures, and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. Dan offers both a 7am and 11 am departure. Both trips are 3 hours in length. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits of Captain Dan’s 45 years of knowledge and experience around these wild creatures!

March 6th, 2016

March 7th, 2016

The humpback whale season continues in a strong direction with wonderful and fulfilling whale encounters (visit TripAdvisor.com, Yelp.com, or Google.com for customer reviews). As the migration hits full swing in the warm water breeding grounds of Hawaii, mothers with newborn calves and singing male whales are just a few of the treasures that have been our guests’ experience. Single whales, whale pairs resting underwater, active chase groups, breeching, and other splash behaviors have entertained our guests all season long. In addition, we have had great encounters with sperm whales, beaked whales, and pilot whales in recent days, plus delightful encounters with playful bottlenose and spinner dolphins, which provide a sense of the possible marine wildlife that one can view aboard one of Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures.
One of the many comments we hear from our guests is their appreciation for the educational and insightful information that Captain Dan shares with his guests, based on his 45 years of experience studying and being around these whales in Hawaii and Alaska. For those that want to learn as they watch and photograph these magnificent creatures, you will likely not find a more entertaining and worthwhile “learning adventure”.
Marine wildlife viewing (as well as land-based viewing) is an experience in the “wildness of nature” and seldom are two experiences ever the same. During wildlife excursions, some folks come looking for quantities of whales, birds, elephants, etc. Others want the “quality” of an encounter. In the wild, the numbers of whales fluctuate by the hour, as these mobile animals move around the ocean. You just never know what you’re going to come across out there at any given moment. While dashing around the water trying to see “lots of whales” is satisfying on some level, one can likely “watch” more by taking the time to stay with and view a few of these magnificent animals in the wild, and watch their behaviors develop. As they get comfortable with your unobtrusive presence, that is often when their “curiosity” seems to take over, and they may come over to view you by swimming under or in close proximity to the boat.
On Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures you will be treated with warm hospitality, including complimentary and tasty refreshments and snacks, as well as educational information given first by Captain Dan himself and supplemented by his well-educated, experienced and friendly crew.
It’s always best to plan ahead in this busy whale watching season, so book soon! To book our adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, call us directly at 808 322-0028 (888-942-5376 toll free) or simply click on the Make A Reservation tab to the left of the screen on our website at www.ilovewhales.com. We offer both 7 AM and 11 AM departure times, both 3 hours in length. If you want the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, less traffic, soft lighting for getting great pics, and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion.
We look forward to serving you and providing you with an extraordinary whale watching experience arising from Captain Dan’s knowledge and experience around these wild and magnificent creatures!

January 10th, 2016

January 11th, 2016

The new year has brought an increasing number of Humpback whale visitors to the warm and calm waters off the Kona/Kohola coast along the leeward side of Hawaii Island. With the experience and skill of Captain Dan’s 45 years of time around these animals, we have had a perfect sighting record and many great “up close” looks at these wild but gentle creatures.
Although every trip out into nature is never the same, many of our guests have been treated to seeing these magnificent creatures resting under the boat in the clear waters, hearing their whale songs through our underwater microphones, mothers with newborn calves, and aerial displays (breeches and head and tail slaps) from these 40 ton acrobats!
Passengers have also been entertained by numerous encounters with Bottlenose dolphins (“Flipper”) mixed in with Humpback whales, as well as Spinner dolphins in the shallow waters along the coastlines. And for you bird enthusiasts – there have been great sightings of numerous migratory species of marine birds as well!
On Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures you will be treated with warm hospitality, including complimentary and tasty refreshments and snacks, as well as educational information given first by Captain Dan himself and supplemented by his well-educated, experienced and friendly crew.
It’s always best to plan ahead in this busy whale watching season, so book soon! To book our adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, call us directly at 808 322-0028 (888-942-5376 toll free) or simply click on the Make A Reservation tab to the left of the screen on our website at www.ilovewhales.com. We offer both a 7 AM and 11 AM departure times, both 3 hours in length. If you want the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, less traffic, soft lighting for getting great pics, and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion.
We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits arising from Captain Dan’s knowledge and experience around these wild and magnificent creatures!

December 1st, 2015

December 1st, 2015

After a summer and fall of observing stunning and intelligent Orca whales in The Pacific Northwest, Captain Dan McSweeney has returned to Hawaii to continue his work with the magnificent Humpback whales. For several weeks now, the number of Humpbacks returning to the Big Island waters to join resident whales has steadily increased, and although January, February and March are their biggest migration months, there have already been numerous sightings of cows and calves along with pairs and singles. We are beginning to see mothers and calves playing atop the warm Pacific Ocean, their tails slapping the ocean and fins gently waving above the water. These playful mothers can be as much as 40 feet long and weigh 60,000 -80,000 pounds when they arrive. At birth, their calves are a mere 11-14 feet long and weigh about 2,000 pounds, but their rate of growth makes their year old counterparts difficult to distinguish from other whales. Lone males have already been spotted as they dive beneath the surface and sing the mysterious humpback song deep in the water.
Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch will begin their Humpback season mid-December, as the Humpbacks continue increase in number and visibility. Also, Pilot Whales and Beaked Whales, smaller than the Humpback, but unique in that they travel in groups that can number as many as 30, are playing in the waters around the island. In addition there have been several sightings of the elusive false killer whales, a rare treat for everyone. As always, the whales are sometimes joined by spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphins, who love to play in the wake of the Whale Watch boat.
Captain McSweeney’s Whale watch guarantees whale sightings. However, if you happen to be on the rare trip where a whale is not sighted, you will be given a second excursion at our expense, and treated with warm hospitality, as is the norm on all our trips. All trips include tasty refreshments and snacks, as well as educational information given first by Captain Dan himself, and supplemented by his well-educated, experienced and friendly crew.
It’s best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, call us directly at 808-322-0028 or simply click the Make a Reservation tab to the left of the screen on our website www.ilovewhales.com. Captain Dan offers both a 7 am and 11 am departure, both of which are 3 hours in length. If you prefer the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, best lighting for getting great pics, and having the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits arising from Captain Dan’s knowledge and experience around these wild creatures!

February 28th, 2015

March 3rd, 2015

We are at high season here at Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures! Everywhere we go we see whales, whales and more whales. The bumper season for visiting Humpback Whales is strong with the presence of many young calves and mothers enjoying the warm and plentiful waters of the great Pacific Ocean. Where we find mothers and calves, we also find escorts and single males. These giants often serenade the Whale Watch vessel with the unique song of the Humpback, heard through our special underwater microphone system so that all of our guests can have the once in a lifetime experience of whale song as we travel along the Kona/Kohala coast. Lots of splash behaviors like breeching, tail slapping and pectoral fin slapping seen as these giants interact with each other
The mighty Humpback is a people-friendly whale, with the mothers sometimes swimming near the Whale Watch vessel to show off their recently born calves before granting a personal photography session for customers including massive tail flips, fin slaps and stunning breaches. Once they tire of entertaining they will sometimes drift under the boat in plain view of passengers looking down into the very clear and calm waters off Hawaii. Quite a thrill!
Among the Humpbacks we often have fun encounters with bottlenose and spinner dolphins interacting with humpback whales. These creatures seem miniscule next the Humpbacks, but have a bit of a mischievous heart as they romp and jump among their giant cousins. In addition, we have had the unusual experience of finding Manta Rays jumping out of the salty water as they feed in established current lines on concentrations of small prey. These Manta Rays are bigger than most and are a bit shy, but we are finding them more and more often, giving our passengers a rare photo shot experience and showing them similar feeding styles to those of the humpback whales.
It is the perfect time of year to come and join us at Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch Experience! Warm, sunny weather with calm seas make for a perfect encounter with the giant creatures of the sea. Call early at 888-942-5376 or simply click the reservation button to the left of the main screen to reserve your seat on the 7:00am or 11:00 am trip. We look forward to serving you with snacks, information, photographic opportunities and a sense of friendship that can only be found on the Island of Hawaii!