Captain Dan's Blog

Captain’s Log March 6, 2013

For whale watchers across the Big Island, March offers all of the delights that might be expected with the peak of the season. Humpback whales continue to abound everywhere up and down the Kona Coast. This is a particularly good year on the Hawaiian breeding grounds. With the presence of a lot of mother humpback whales and their calves, there is evidence of the growing population of humpback whales, estimated to be increasing by 7% with every passing year. The calves stay with their moms for 12 – 18 months before they venture out from the protective wings of the mother whale. Nursing on as much as 50 – 100 gallons of milk per day, the youngsters grow rapidly during the first year of life.

The conditions for whale watching off the Kona Coast are ideal this time of year. Kona is on the leeward side of the island and the name literally means calm. The waters off the Kona Coast are protected by the extremely tall volcanoes that rise from the sea. This makes for ideal water conditions compared to other locations on the island and also contributes to the beautiful sunny skies. Winter temperatures are mild, hovering in the 80s, making it the ideal winter time to escape from snow storms on the mainland U.S. Because of the very tall volcanoes that make up the island, Kona is also graced with extraordinarily deep water very close to shore which draws in a whole host of other marine mammals besides the seasonal humpback that prefers the shallow water coastline. This month has already brought sightings of Hawaiian pilot whales and the false killer whales (dubious distinction of being Hawaii’s newest endangered cetacean species) , two of the twelve exotic species that make their home in Kona all year round. Both species are typically found in larger groups. Pilot whales, in particular, are often with related individuals which makes sightings very intriguing for guests as Captain Dan generally knows the individuals, being that he has studied pilot whales off these waters for several decades. The false killer whales are also fun to encounter as they are the ultimate predator, next to their cousin, the black and white killer whale, which often makes for exciting encounters as on lookers often witness them in action chasing down fast moving prey. In the deeper water have also been huge schools of the spotted dolphins which can launch their bodies 20 -30 feet in to the air in a spectacular display.

Closer to the shoreline are large congregations of spinner dolphins that come to the shallows during the daylight hours after foraging at sea through the night. The spinners are also known for their aerial antics and can complete 7 revolutions mid air before crashing back down again. The spinners are sometimes seen socializing with their seasonal humpback whale friends. Dwarfed by the giant whales, the spinner dolphins weigh in at only 100 pounds when full grown. Their cousins, the bottlenose dolphins, on the other hand might be 600 – 800 pounds when full grown and they too like to hang with the humpback whales from time to time. When it comes to wild life off the Big Island, there is no shortage of it and whatever it is we are graced to encounter, it is always sure to entertain. Each day brings with it a new wild life surprise.

See what your trip may have in store for you. Book your whale watch expedition today with Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures, the most experienced operation on the Big Island. Spend quality time with whales, basking in the warm Kona sunshine, enjoy true whale tales told only so well by an Irishman wildlife photographer and researcher such as Captain Dan McSweeney. Book direct and receive a complimentary 8 x 10 color picture of a whale taken by none other than your own Captain Dan. Reserve your space today at 1-808-322-0028.

On behalf of the entire crew, we look forward to seeing you on the Kona Coast of the Big Island.

Aloha and Mahalo, Captain Dan

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