Captain Dan's Blog

January 1, 2012

It’s a wonderful start of the 2011/2012 season for us at Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch. The annual migratory return of humpback whales back to these warm Hawaiian waters is well under way. Since early December, sightings of our seasonal visitors have been consistent off the Big Island. Large bulls and adolescent individuals are typically the first to arrive and this year has been no exception. Furthermore, we have been graced with a lot of pairs of humpback whales over recent days.

On one whale watch excursion, we were surprised with some other rare visitors, the Sei Whales. We encountered a large group of these impressive whales after we received a report of a group of humpback whales offshore in deep water. Heeding the tip, because deep water sightings often turn out to be our year-round resident sperm whales, we took a spin to the deep water, nearly 12 miles off shore of the Kona Coast. To our surprise, the whales we encountered were neither the giant sperm whales nor the seasonal humpback whales but a rarely seen species in Hawaii called Sei whales The pod numbered approximately 15-20 individuals and passengers and crew alike were enamored by their presence. Their sleek bodies, unique shape and exotic coloration quickly gave them away as something unique. Sei whale sightings are rare in the Hawaiian Islands. Animals range in size but may reach more than 65 feet in length and weigh even more than the seasonal humpback whales at 100,000 pounds. The group was quite curious, showing no hesitation to surface right alongside the boat. A real treat for everyone aboard; this was a profound experience for guests and captain and crew. The adventure was topped off with some dolphins on the way back to shore leaving everyone with a smile in their heart.

Other tours have included groups of pilot whales and the small pygmy killer whales, sighted not far from a single humpback whale traveling near the shallow water shelf. What the small pygmy killer whales lack in size, they make up for in attitude. These are formidable predators and are often known to attack other marine mammals, especially the dolphins as they wait for them to escape the nets of tuna fisheries. Always a delight to encounter, pygmy killer whales are easily recognized by their round bulbous heads and their white underbellies.

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. Dan’s 40 years of experience sets his trips apart from others. Book your trip today and see what Mother Nature and Dan have in store for you…808-322-0028.

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