Captain Dan's Blog

Archive for November, 2017

November 30th, 2017

Thursday, 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 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!

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