The Humpbacks are coming!

According to NOAA, the first humpback whale was spotted off the Big Island (Island of Hawaii) this Monday! It's very early, and who knows when he or she will make its way to Maui. The shallow water between Maui and Lanai is the whales' preferred birthing area. Every year the humpbacks return from their Alaskan feeding frenzy to spend December through March (sometimes April) off the Maui coast in our warm ocean waters. At the 2011 whale count last February, volunteers counted 1607 sightings (I'm not sure how scientific the count is, how would you avoid double counting?). Nonetheless, it's an impressive number. The females give birth and nurse their young, the males sing, usually with their heads pointed down, and generally show off! Great opportunity to see tail flukes and breaches!

If you are here during whale season, I highly recommend a whale watch. I prefer the Pacific Whale Foundation's whale watches. They have several scientists on board who answer all your questions. Book online for a discount. Their whale watches leave from Maalaea Harbor (just north of Kihei).

You can, of course, also watch the whales from shore. Last February our guests at Kihei Surfside watched a momma whale give birth to her calf directly from their lanai (balcony)! They said it took about an hour, they sat with their eyes glued to their binoculars while some kayakers watched from upclose. How cool is that??

Want to know more about humpback whales? Here is a link from the Pacific Whale foundation.

By law boats have to shut down their engines when they get within 100 yards of whales. In 2009 our family had the coolest-ever whale watch! The boat shut down its engines because there were two whales close by. We then ended up drifting around for an hour or more because these two humpback whales decided to come right up to the boat, jumping next to it, diving under it etc.... it was the coolest show ever!! Here are a few pictures of that experience.

he's coming!

you can see his back center-right, and some spray center-left where his head just went under after blowing

there's his back, hopefully going UNDER the boat, instead of ramming it!

tail and fin?

His back, diving under again! Such amazing powerful animals!

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