For us at Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch, it’s a wonderful start of the annual humpback whale migration. Every year the humpback whales leave the icy cold water feeding grounds of Southeast Alaska to make a 3,000 mile migration to their warm water breeding grounds in Hawaii. While the bulk of the whales won’t arrive until mid January, the sightings of humpbacks are more consistent with every passing day.
While it is a bit early for newborn calves, we have already seen a few different mother and calf pairs. They are especially fun to spend time with. The calf does not hold its breath as long as its mother so it spends more time at the surface. Often, we might witness the calf jumping for the first time, a behavior called ‘breaching’, or sometimes we might see it lying on its back, flapping its long flippers. Sometimes the calves get curious of objects floating at the surface and pay a close visit. No matter what it is up to, a humpback calf is always a delight to encounter.
Besides seasonal humpback whales, our recent excursions have included encounters with giant sperm whales of Moby Dick fame. Found offshore in the deep water, this giant lives in the Hawaiian Islands throughout the entire year. Because a sperm whale is capable of staying underwater more than an hour on a single breath of air and lives in the deep water, the sperm whale receives very little attention compared to the seasonal humpback that prefers the shallow water where they are obvious to visitors and residents alike. Feeding on fish and giant squid, the sperm whale can dive one or two miles beneath the ocean’s surface. Its unique body shape and the angle of its spout set it apart from all other whales in the ocean. Easy to identify, even from a distance, the spout of the giant sperm whale angles at about 45 degrees from the surface of the water while the spout of a humpback whale will rise vertically. The year-round pilot whales have also made recent appearances. Found in large groups of essentially related individuals, pilot whales are always a pleasure to come across. Much smaller than their larger relatives, what the pilot whale lacks in size, it more than makes up for in number. Pilot whales are often found in large groups numbering 15 – 30 individuals whereas the seasonal humpback whale is often found by itself.
Dolphins are often found close to the shoreline during the daylight hours. The most common variety in Hawaii is the notorious spinner dolphin, always fun to watch, most renowned for its aerial antics.
Each trip differs from the next as we never know exactly what we will see or where, but one thing is for sure, we will see whales. Our guarantee is that if you don’t see whales the first time out, you come out again, “on us”. Book your trip online at www.ilovewhales.com or call 808 322-0028 today and see what Mother Nature might have in store for you