Maui, Hawaii

Tag: animals

Humpback Whales and a cool Drone Video

It’s whale season here on Maui. I love this time of year when all you have to do is look out over the ocean, and there is a really good chance you’ll see them blow or splash.

I love love love this drone video of humpback whales. When on a whale watch or from shore, you see glimpses of whales and their behavior. From above you see so much more.

I thought with whale season in full swing, it’s a good time for a re-visit of my September 18, 2014 post about humpback whales.

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 is truly 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!

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Driving up Haleakala? Slow down please – it’s nene nesting season

I love the drive up Haleakala. It’s deceptive to look up at the dormant volcano from Kihei – it really doesn’t look that high, but the summit is 10,023 ft high. Haleakala is in fact taller than Mount Everest if measured from its base at the ocean floor, coming in at 29,703 ft total elevation. Of course, you can’t hike those lower 19,680 ft below sea level.

Once you reach the national park gates, it is a slow windy drive to the summit. There are no trees, just low lying brush, grasses and silver sword (found only on Haleakala).
The nene (pronounced ‘nay-nay’) bird is Hawaii’s state bird and on the endangered species list. Small numbers live in Haleakala State Park. The Park currently has a warning posted on their website, urging motorists to drive cautiously and watch for nenes on the road and in the parking lot. It is nesting season and rangers want to make sure these nearly extinct birds have a chance at a come-back.
Did you know, according to National Geographic the nene bird is a relative to the Canada Goose?
Do you need to hike to look into the crater valley? No! Park at the main parking lot at the summit and it’s a short walk to the visitor center where you can gaze down into the amazing crater valley. Can you hike into the valley? Sure thing! A couple things to be aware of: 1. please stay on the marked trails. Haleakala’s silver sword plants grow only on Haleakala and can die if you step on the ground around them (they have delicate root systems). 2. the dirt inside the crater valley is actually part ash. Bring something to protect your eyes and face (a bandana perhaps) for when the wind picks up. 3. you are at 10,000 ft elevation. It will be significantly cooler than at sea level. In fact, on January 5th the summit area was closed due to snow and ice. Yes, snow and ice on Maui, rare, but it can happen. 4. bring a camera – the scenery is absolutely amazing!!
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Severe flood warnings on Maui – stay out of the ocean please

It is winter and technically rainy season in Hawaii. Though in Kihei we tend to forget about that – last year we had a grand 8 inches of rain for the year. We were up in Kaanapali yesterday evening and on the way home it sure was raining… We aren’t used to this rain in Kihei!

This morning my phone buzzed with a ‘severe threat alert‘. There are flash flood warnings throughout Maui, the alert advises to check the local news.

What is a flash flood warning? It is when it rains heavily enough that water doesn’t absorb into the ground but instead runs off the island into the ocean. Newer developments have gulches that should be able to handle the run-off, but some areas and roads in Kihei will flood – particularly in North and Central Kihei. If you see flooding, please stop and turn around, do not try to walk or drive through it. Remember, it may not be raining at your part of Maui, but if it’s been raining up the mountain from you, you can see run-off.

Most importantly, it is important to STAY OUT OF THE OCEAN during and after storms until the water is no longer murky.

I know this is hard when you’ve come all this way and all you want to do is play in the ocean. As long as the water is murky from the extra run-off and change in currents (caused by the storm), this is also prime shark feeding time. Please, for your safety, stay out of the water.

Wondering what to do instead? Here are a few ideas: check out the condo pool, do some last minute Christmas shopping, scope out where you want to eat Christmas dinner (and make a reservation!!), go see Santa swimming with the sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, do some outlet shopping at the one-year-old Outlet mall in Lahaina, hang low at the condo and nurse that sunburn (remember, we have netflix, a small DVD collection and a few books), check out the movies in Kahului (at Maui Mall and Queen Kaahumanu Mall), watch the waves roll in on the North Shore (near Paia, just don’t go in). Check out a show in Lahaina – Ulalena, Elvis – or Warren and Annabelle’s magic show….

Stay safe!

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Sand Fleas

A friend was visiting us this summer and started complaining of incredibly itchy bug bites. This is the tropics and yes, there are bugs, but we were all perplexed. Anti-histamines didn’t seem to help terribly much, so finally she went to the doctor. Guess what the culprit was?

Sand fleas. 
photo from Sandfleas.org

Say what? I have never heard of sand fleas. So I looked them up. These are not actually fleas, they are tiny little crustaceans that look like mini-shrimp. They must have bitten her when laying on the sand at one of the beaches. Her husband who was at the beach with her, did not have any bites. Go figure.

The word from the doctor was – for most people ice for the bites and an anti-histamine like Benadryl will do the trick. Unfortunately my friend had an allergic reaction to the bites, but the doctors were able to give her something stronger.

The good news is – this is the first time I have ever heard of someone getting bitten by a sand flea, so go ahead and enjoy your vacation! If you want to grab an anti-histamine just in case – check out Long’s Drugs or the Safeway pharmacy.

There are several medical centers in South Maui for your convenience. Maui Medical Group, Urgent Care Maui, Kihei Wailea Medical Center, Wailea Medical Center & Urgent Care.

Maui’s hospital and emergency room (Maui Memorial) is located in Kahului. 

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Shark attacks on Maui

If you’ve been watching the news these past few days, you may have heard about the three recent shark attacks off Maui waters.

What on earth is going on?? I’ll tell you – very simply, murky water. We did just have Hurricane Ana pass through which sent us a lot of rain (though to my knowledge no storm damage). Rain runs off into the ocean, creating murky water (washing things into the ocean you probably don’t want to swim in either). Additionally a storm passing through will whip up the water, creating weird currents and what-not.

picture taken at the Maui Ocean Center‘s shark tank

Noone was injured in these shark attacks, the sharks left bite marks on the surf/stand-up paddle boards involved.

Please please please let this be a reminder, do not go out in murky water. You may be fine (shark-wise), but you may be asking for trouble. If you get in trouble, someone will (hopefully) rescue you, putting their own life at risk.

When in doubt, please do not go out.

Should you worry about sharks (other than in murky water)? Honestly, there is a much greater chance of you having a car accident while on Maui than being bitten by a shark. Do use common sense and if you are concerned, stay at beaches that have life guards (who keep an eye out for sharks and can help you).

More information on ocean safety.

A year ago scientists tagged a number of tiger sharks off Maui to track their travels – check out this website (unless you are prone to worrying, then don’t). Please keep in mind, this is not real-time information, so don’t use this as a tool to see where the sharks are. Additionally, they did not tag all the sharks swimming in Hawaii waters, just a few off Maui’s waters. It sure is interesting to see where these sharks have traveled. Some have stayed close, while others have explored great distances.

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Geckos geckos everywhere

I just had to share this picture taken in my kitchen this evening. We have this tiny baby gecko (an inch head to tail) in our house – I tried to catch him in the bathroom yesterday (to release him outside), but he was determined not to be caught. Tonight I found him trying to use my laptop! Now he’s peering over the edge of the counter, trying to determine if the drop to the floor is safe. Probably not little guy.

Should you be scared of geckos? Nope. Geckos are pretty harmless, and though they probably will startle you, they are considered good luck here in Hawaii! They also eat bugs – nature’s pest control. But yes, I agree, I’d rather he go outside!

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First humpback whale sighting of the season!

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!

Comment »