One of our favorite pass-times in Hawaii center around the Humpback whales that come here to give birth and nurse their babies, before making the long trek back home to Alaskan waters to feed and fatten up for the long journey back here next year.
We are privileged to have a view from our lanai (that's Hawaiian for balcony) which gives us a sweeping view of the Pacific ocean, and thus a great backdrop for whale watching.
What you're looking for, as you scan the horizon, is the "poof" -- the cloud of vapor that they create (see it?!?) when they surface and clear their blow hole to breath. Sort of the same way we clear our snorkel gear to clear it of water so we can get air.
If you're close enough to hear it, the sound they make is tremendous. It thunders, and is a testament to how fabulously huge these beasts are.
For them to have come so far, swimming the annual 5,000 round trip miles from Alaska to these warm Hawaiian waters, is an amazing pilgrimage. So to spot them here is always a thrill!
We went out with friends (thank you Wilf and Shirl!) to putz along our Ko Olina shoreline yesterday, and we got quite a show.
We forgot to keep count in all the excitement, but we sighted at least 10 during our couple of hours on the water.
One of them swam parallel to our boat for awhile, and so we just quietly kept pace. To our utter delight, he surfaced not once or twice, not three, but four different times, showing us the length of his physique each time before resuming his swim.
If you watch this little video clip, hang in there and count to four...... Humpback Whales off the coast of Ko'Olina
We saw breaching, as this one jumped in the distance several times in a row. My zoom just wouldn't go that far (Nope, this is not my photo ~ again, thanks to Wilf and Shirl!); so instead I was stuck just ooohing and awwwhing, then shouting and clapping as the show went on & on.
That's 45 tons of whale blubber shooting up to the sky, then falling on it's side for a tremendous impact ~ over and over and over again ~ well, that's just a spectacular day.
I was once on a whale watch excursion where the baby came right up to the catamaran, very curious to see who were were and what we were up to. Usually the mama whales discourage this, but this little guy must have been spoiled, because not only did she allow it, she actually came to join him. They were close enough that if I leaned out over the railing I could've touched them. Of course that's not allowed, but wow!
The chance to looking right into their eyes (they are very curious creatures), actually feeling the spray when they cleared their blowholes (does that classify as whale spit or or whale snot?!? ~ I'm not sure......) It's one of those moments in life I will never forget.......
Then pretty soon, a third whale joined them ~ not the daddy, but the male escort, and he was so very huge ~ that sent the first chill of fear down my spine. One slap of his fin and we'd be sunk. Literally. But they didn't linger........his appearance soon moved the trio onward, as his primary purpose is to pursue a female to mate with once she's given birth, and evidently she was in the mood to be chased, not caught......
To think of the ocean being so vast, and us so very small makes these encounters extraordinary, in my mind. To cross paths with creatures who live in the depths of the sea, in those few seconds that they surface for air.....I always think, "What are the odds of that? That I'm here, of all the places in the universe I could be ~ I'm right here at this very second, to see this taking place ~ what are the odds??"
It always leaves me feeling humbled and ever-so-grateful.