Holiday in Hawaii #5
After migrating more than 4800 kilometres from the Gulf of Alaska at the end of each year, thousands of humpback whales bask in the warm waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Every morning, from our eighth floor balcony, we saw whales passing by. With coffee in one hand and binoculars in the other we scanned the ocean looking for blows. Sometimes the binoculars weren’t even necessary.
These tantalising glimpses of whales left us wanting more, so we joined an early morning whale watching tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation. The rising sun gilded the West Maui mountains as the catamaran Ocean Spirit glided effortlessly out of Lahaina’s sheltered boat harbour into Auau Channel.
Once in open water, we gathered along the railing, searching for signs that whales were about – the first blow was greeted with excited cries.
Expert commentary from our guide told us where to look and how long to wait before the whales were likely to surface again. Even though our group was large, there wasn’t a sound as we waited in anticipation. A pod of whales, at least three and sometimes up to five, rewarded our patience with their playful tail slapping and head rises.
We didn’t just see whales. When an underwater microphone was lowered into the depths, we heard their haunting whale song.
What were they calling to each other? Probably courtship songs, but I’d like to think the whales were as fascinated by us as we were by them.