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December 2019

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

The magnificent Humpback Whales are back and so is Captain Dan! After four decades of studying this remarkable species of baleen whale in Alaska and Hawaii, Captain Dan has returned to the warm waters of the Big Island and is ready for another spectacular and exiting season aboard the vessel LADY ANN. After spending several summer months in the frigid waters of the North Pacific, gorging on krill and small fish, Humpback whales are already returning to the clear blue waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Spouts and tails of the infamous Humpback whales, as well as several other species of toothed whales have already been observed along the western shores of the Big Island.

Of twenty-five species of whales and dolphins that occur in Hawaiian waters, Humpbacks are probably the most recognizable species of baleen whale. They have the longest flippers of any species of whale or dolphin, reaching about a third of their body length. They have a low, humped dorsal fin and a tail that can measure 15 feet across. Humpback whales raise their tails (called flukes) when they dive, and markings on the underside of the flukes are used to identify individuals and track their movements. So, look for this giant tail as this 40- ton animal dives more than any other species of baleen whale in Hawaii.

Although typically January, February, and March include the highest numbers of sightings of Humpback whales, numerous sightings in November and December have already been recorded in the beautiful clear blue waters of Kona. Humpback whales in Hawaii show a strong preference for shallow water with most individuals in water less than 600 ft deep. At this time of year, mother and calf pairs can be seen in the shallow inshore waters of Kona, and Captain Dan knows just where they like to be. Humpback whale calves are about 13 ft long at birth. Females are generally larger than males, reaching up to about 53 ft in length. More acrobatic and vocal than any of the other large whales in Hawaii, it is common to see breaching and flipper slapping as Captain Dan and his amazing crew points out their location. Through the use of a hydrophone dropped in the water next to the boat, passengers are allowed to listen to the unique songs that only Humpback whales sing.

As this new season begins, more highlights have included recent sightings in late November of a group of the largest toothed whale on the planet. The giant Sperm Whale was just sighted offshore along the west side of the Big Island. Sperm whales are one of the most exciting toothed whale species to observe due to it large size (males can reach up to 60 ft in length!). Also, a Sperm whale’s spout is unique in that it is the only whale that has a blowhole that is located on the front left part of its giant boxy head. So, look for a spout that projects forward and to the left. The diversity of whales and dolphins in Hawaii is remarkable, so also look for pilot whales, beaked whales, false killer whales, and more. Of course, don’t forget the fun and frolicking spinner and bottlenose dolphins that often follow the LADY ANN in such close proximity, that you will only need your cell phone to take a picture.

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. All passengers are always treated with warm hospitality and include tasty refreshments and snacks. Each trip also includes scientific and educational information given by Captain Dan himself, and supplemented by his well-educated and friendly crew. It’s best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge your whale watching desire, please call us directly at 808-322-0028 or simply click the MAKE A RESERVATION tab to the left of the screen on our informative website Captain Dan offers both a 7am and 11am departure, both of which are three hours in length. If you prefer the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, best lighting for getting photographs, and having the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. However, both seem to provide the same opportunities for whale watching.

We look forward to serving you and providing you with an extraordinary whale watching experience arising from Captain Dan’s knowledge and experience around these wild and magnificent creatures!

February 2019

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Although January began a new calendar year for us, Humpbacks have been arriving to the crystal blue waters of the Big Island of Hawaii since October. Each year is different, and the whale season aboard the Lady Ann of Captain Dan’s McSweeney’s Whale Watching Adventures has been like no other this year! This has included the sightings of mother Humpbacks and their newborn calves, and the endangered False Killer whales. If you want to see whales, this is the year! Like clockwork, the magnificent Humpback whale is making its 3.000- mile trip from the frigid waters of the North Pacific feeding grounds, to the warmer waters of Hawaii for its mate selection and breeding grounds.

Once again, Captain Dan McSweeney has a 100% success rate, and has been able to find whales on every trip.  This year has been a banner year for behavior. Bottlenose dolphins, a treat to observe around the islands, have been seen in notably increased numbers this year, swimming and engaging with Humpback whales. There is nothing quite like watching encounters of huge 40-ft baleen whales interacting with pods of 10-ft dolphins; the dolphins maneuvering their aerodynamic bodies and participating with another giant species by choice, frolicking and seemingly playing with these huge cousins. The giant Humpbacks respond by tail and flipper slapping, and sometimes breaching, throwing their entire bodies out of the water. There is probably nothing more spectacular! There is truly nothing like this experience, and you are seeing it all from the deck of the Lady Ann’s comfortable seats.

Visitors on the Lady Ann this year have also experienced especially close proximity to these huge Humpback whales. Just this year on several occasions, whales have approached the Lady Ann and swam parallel so close to the boat that people have been able to see the Humpback’s softball-sized eye as it swims along side the boat. Just this season, visitors have also experienced these giant baleen whales swim back and forth under the boat (and even singing whales under the boat was well)! You never know what is going to happen out there on the crystal clear waters of Kona.

This new year of 2019 has also brought incredible sightings and experiences of cow/calf pairs. Although a birth has never been documented in Humpback whales, this year visitors aboard Captain Dan McSweeney’s Lady Ann have observed several newborn calves interacting with their mothers, as they come up to the surface to breathe as the female stays close.

Another reason that makes the Big Island such a unique place for watching and studying whales is the diversity of whale species that live and feed and breed around these waters. Not only can you see the giant baleen whales, but you may potentially see many of the toothed whale species, including short-finned Pilot whales, Spotted and Spinner dolphins, the rare Beaked whales, and the endangered False Killer whale. Furthermore, the giant Sperm whales are often seen in the offshore waters of the Big Island with their huge heads and forward facing spouts. Whales watching just can’t be beat off the Kona shoreline of the Big Island, especially with your guide biologist/researcher Captain Dan McSweeney.

It’s best to plan ahead in this upcoming season of February and March, so book soon! To book your adventure and indulge you whale watching desires, 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 side of the screen at our website If you want the calmer waters, cooler air temperatures and nice lighting as the sun rises over the mountain, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. Captain Dan offers both a 7AM departure (returning around 10AM) and an 11AM departure (returning around 2PM). Both trips are 3 hours in length. Both trips have complementary snacks and beverages, as well as a 4-color whale watching guide souvenir and a stunning 8 X 11 color whale photo taken by your Captain. Sailing with Captain Dan is always a delightful and educational experience. We look forward to serving you and providing you with the whale watching benefits of Captain Dan’s 45 years of knowledge, research, and experience around these wild creatures!


December 03, 2018

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Following an unprecedented year for the Big Island of Hawaii for geological and landscape changes, the air and pristine waters along the Kona coast has never been more blue, or more crystal clear. Scientists confirm that the VOG is gone and the whales are back! Just in recent days, Humpbacks have already been sighted along Kona’s west coast inshore and out. Returning year after year, these huge forty-ton baleen whales have traveled thousands of miles from their northern feeding grounds just to return to these unique breeding and nursery areas along the west coast of The Big Island. And once again, Captain Dan McSweeney and his vessel, the Lady Ann, have already been out on these waters searching and recording sightings of Humpbacks as well as all the other toothed whales that live in these enticing waters of Kona.
After spending time in the colder waters of the Pacific Northwest and Canada this past summer and fall, where the endangered southern resident Orca whales are struggling to survive, Captain Dan McSweeney returns to his home for his 47th winter to continue his work with the mighty Humpback whales. Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watch aboard the Lady Ann will begin its 2018/2019 season in mid-December as these enormous marine mammals continue to increase in numbers and visibility. One of the reasons that makes these Hawaiian waters so unique, is they support one of the highest diversity of marine mammal species on the planet, which includes twelve species of toothed whales and seven species of baleen whales. In fact, a pod of the largest toothed whale in the world, the rare Sperm whale, have frequently been spotted in Kona waters in the deeper waters beyond the more shallow areas where female and calf Humpbacks are usually found. Captain Dan has also observed multiple species of the extremely difficult-to-spot Beaked whale groups around the Big Island Kona waters, as well as the more common Spinner, Bottlenose, and Spotted dolphins. The fascinating behaviors of the Pilot whales are always a treat, and Captain Dan has a sixth sense for finding them. Pilot whales are smaller than the Humpback and Sperm whales, but are unique in their social behavior and can be found in groups that can number as many as thirty individuals, including males, females, and calves.
Dan will begin running his regular morning tours on Tuesday, December 18th this year. As you know, these Humpbacks are wild creatures that move around a big ocean environment. Each trip yields unexpected surprises as we never know exactly what mother nature will serve up. If you want to increase your chances of seeing these animals close up and personal, Captain Dan’s three-hour tours are your best bet. As with watching any wild creature, especially in a marine environment, the more time you have to watch, the higher the likelihood that you will encounter these whales and observe their fascinating behaviors, such as breaching, tail-lobbing, and courtship. Captain Dan will go above and beyond to help provide you opportunities for incredible and breathtaking photographs that you don’t want to miss.
It’s best to plan ahead in this busy season, so book soon! As an extra bonus when you book with Captain Dan, you will receive a stunning complimentary autographed photograph of a whale he personally took during his research efforts. 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 tab to the left of the screen on our web site at If you desire the calmer water, cooler air temperatures, and the rest of the day to enjoy other activities, you might want to consider booking the early morning excursion. Captain Dan typically offers both 7am and 11am departures. Both trips are the longer three-hour tours. We look forward to serving and providing you with the whale watching benefits of Captain Dan’s over 4 decades of knowledge and experience around these wild and fascinating creatures!

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