Have you seen a Humpback Whale?
Photo by Captain Roger Gildersleeve
The whales are here! Every winter the Humpback Whales arrive in Maui to the amusement of locals and visitors alike. Peak season for whale watching in Hawaii is Febraury and March. This year we spotted our first whale on the Kai Kanani October 4, which was the earliest recorded spotting of a whale this year. The Hawaiian waters will host over 10,000 whales each winter, of those about 80% will be right here in Maui County waters. Maui County consists of the Islands of Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai & Molokai. The waters in this area average 300-600 feet deep which compared to the outside of the islands which can reach 10,000, is relatively shallow.
So, why do the whales come to Maui? Females make the 3,000 mile journey from Alaska, Canada, and Russia to give birth to their calves here in the warm Hawaiian waters. The journey each way will take about 6 weeks, though by photo identification they have been recorded making the trip in about 30 days. Males follow the females down for one reason, they are hoping to mate with these females after they give birth. We get on average 3 males to each female, so competition can get pretty fierce. Most females will wait 2-3 year in between calves, but some females will mate right after giving birth. If a female is not mating or giving birth, she may remain up North for the winter, not bothering to make the journey down to Hawaii.
Humpback whales are one of the largest animals you will seen in Hawaii. They reach lengths of 45 feet and up to 90,000 lbs, almost 1 ton per foot. To see these beautiful animals leap into the air or swim stealth like under water is an amazing occurrence.
We are looking forward to starting our Whale Watch Tours on the Kai Kanani next week. While there are some whales here now, we like to make sure we can guarantee you will see them before we take you out on the water. Our crew is prepared for the fun filled and educational tours after attending Naturalist classes and working with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. Scientists and researchers are learning new information about the Humpbacks each year and we like to keep updated on all the new findings.
Grab your cameras and bring your questions and we will see you on our Whale Watch Tours this winter!