Captain Dan's Blog

Archive for March, 2012

March 15th-22nd, 2012

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

March 15, 2012

This season of the year is a good time to see mother and calf humpback pairs. While much of the herd has begun its migration back to the Pacific Northwest, the mothers and calves seem to remain behind the longest.
The calves may need to do a fair bit of nursing before they are strong enough to make the long, 2,500-mile journey north. Day in and day out we have been witnessing these pairs as the young calf often circles at the surface above the mother humpback whale and then dives down to nurse. The calf feeds on approx 50 – 100 gallons of milk per day and grows rapidly during the first year of its life. Along with the mother humpback and calf pairs is often another adult whale, called an escort whale. For many years, the escort whale was thought to be a female, essentially an auntie charged with helping to care for the youngster, but years of research and underwater gender identification has shown these are actually male whales that sometimes trail the mother and calf around. Out in the deep water as of late, we have had several encounters with the impressive and odd-looking hammerhead sharks. They don’t seem to bother the whales but are often seen in close proximity and are often found in pairs. Closer to shore, the spinner dolphins that remain in Hawaii throughout the entire year have been putting on a quite a show. Huge congregations of them have been seen, usually on the latter part of the tour as we cruise the shallows. Manta rays, sea turtles and a number of other forms of marine life are often seen along the shore. Every day is another unique experience that always seems to surprise even the most experienced of whale watchers. Reservations are required for your adventure. Book it today with Captain Dan’s Whale Watching Adventures at 1-808-322-0028.

March 22, 2012

This week has yielded some epic tours. We have been lucky to witness mating groups of humpback whales that had no hesitation for putting in extremely close appearances right next to our boat. At one point, we were surrounded on every side by a giant goliath. Just sitting in idle, we watched as these mesmerizing creatures splashed around, put up their tails, and circled the boat. Watching the jaw drop on every passenger aboard is always a thrill for the crew. While these close encounters are rare, one never knows when and where they will happen. Equally spectacular have been more appearances of our resident false killer whales and their smaller cousins, the pygmy killer whales. There are more than a dozen varieties of whales that are found in Hawaii throughout the entire year. Every so often, they also pay a visit to the shallow shelf where the humpback whales tend to congregate. These interspecies groupings are always a bonus and fun to watch. Some of these encounters have included a variety of dolphins including spinner, spotted and bottlenose dolphins. These dolphin sightings are always a blast as they are often engaged in some kind of aerial antic, whether its launching their bodies clear of the water or jumping and spinning before splashing back down again.
No one knows why they might engage with the seasonal humpback whales, perhaps this is their idea of fun. Book your whale watch adventure today. Reservations are required. Call Captain Dan’s Whale Watching Adventures at 1-808-322-0028.

March 8, 2012

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Today was another exciting adventure on the whale watch. While watching a humpback whale, a group of false killer whales came romping through the area The false killer whale is highly agile and built for speed. An impressive predator, this whale can weigh thousands of pounds. The false killer whale gets its name because of the similarity of its skull to the better known Orca or “killer” whale, but it lacks the black and white markings of its much larger cousin. Finding false killer whales is always a special and rare encounter. They are notorious for chasing their prey, capturing it, and then passing it around their group until one of them finally consumes the prey.

Today’s encounter was an amazing experience as eventually a group of male false killer whales came together and began crossing under and around our boat. Many were splashing, while others were quick to dart away, only to turn around and come racing back towards us. Visitors and staff alike were thrilled with the excitement of this unusual encounter.

Scientists are especially interested in false killer whales because of their dwindling population in the Hawaiian Islands. On-going research is suggesting that the “insular” population of this species here is thought to now number around 150 individuals. This low population number is of concern to ocean life managers, conservation groups and the concerned public. The false killer whale, in near-shore Hawaiian waters, is now a “candidate” species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Reservations are required for your adventure. Book it today with Captain Dan’s Whale Watching Adventures at 1-808-322-0028.

March 1, 2012

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

March has gotten off to a great start already. Sightings of mating humpback whales are always a crowd pleaser. Humpback whales come to the islands to engage in breeding, calving, and rearing of their young. They socialize with each other and often travel long distances in a single day and may visit up to three islands over a five-day time period.

March is a beautiful time of year here on the Big Island. A hint of spring is in the air, making for enjoyable sea conditions and an abundance of marine life, while on land the mountain slopes are covered in white, sweet-scented blossoms, the buds of the famous Kona coffee in full bloom.

This past week yielded some fun encounters with some of our offshore resident whales, the pygmy killer whales. Despite their small size, pygmy killer whales have an aggressive reputation but are not likely to pose a threat to adult humpbacks or small calves. Pods of pilot whales have also been reported offshore. They will frequently be seen with oceanic white tipped sharks swimming in their midst.

Additionally, we’ve been had numerous sightings some hammerhead sharks resting at the surface. Although this variety of shark is typically not a threat to the humpback whales, larger species like tiger, mako and great white sharks are considered potential predators, especially of sick or injured whales.
Each tour aboard Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures is full of new experiences and pleasant surprises. Contact our office to reserve your seat now….

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