The first humpback whale for the season has been spotted off the coast of Kauai. Every year humpback whales (adults are the size of a school bus) migrate from their cold water feeding grounds in Alaskan waters to Hawai’i. They will spend an average of 6 weeks in our warm waters to breed and calve. During their journey and time here they do not feed, instead waiting to return to their favorite krill at their feeding grounds off Alaska.
Can you imagine not eating for a few months?
Humpback whales do not all arrive at the same time. While you typically see a few outliers in late September and October, the majority of humpbacks arrive between November and April, with February and March being the most favored months. In February and March it is literally ‘whale soup’ in the warm Maui water (between Maui, Kaho’olawe, Lanai and Molokai) – you really can see them jumping and splashing from shore (if you know what you’re looking for).
What else do you need to know? Humpback whales are endangered and it is against the law to approach a humpback whale. By law you need to stay at least 100 yards away from humpbacks (this applies to all boaters, swimmers, kayakers, divers, ocean users in general). Of course, a humpback may approach you. If one does, if you are in a boat, turn the engine off immediately, if you’re in a kayak etc, hold on (to your kayak) tight!
It truly is a magical experience to watch these giant animals!
|Picture from my ‘best whale watch ever’ in February 2013 with Pacific Whale Foundation. In this picture a pod of 6 adult males is swimming directly to the boat, they then dove under the boat in unison (it was like synchronized swimming), coming up on the other side of the boat. On this tour our boat sat still while a pod of 9 males showed off for a few females. It was a truly remarkable experience!|