Captain Dan's Blog

December 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 www.ilovewhales.com. 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!
 
 

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