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!