A lovely white
This humpback has a gorgeous tail of almost entirely white. Humpbacks tails or flukes range from totally black to totally white, pretty much like this one of Cottontail’s. The distinctive white and black pattern of Cottontail’s tail will help us to identify him/her in years to come. Every humpback has markings or a design on the underside of their tail that is uniquely their own. Experts have been identifying individual humpbacks for years by this method.
This humpback has slapped the water surface and now swings his 15 foot pectoral fin back upright to repeat the act again. This is called a pec slap and is a common behavior to be witnessed in Hawaiian waters. It can be seen in most pods or by a lone animal which only confuses the matter about why do humpback whales do that. It a can be seen as a sign of aggression or anger in a comp pod, as playful amusement among calves or juveniles or as a means of communication among adults. This particular pec slap has fanned the water in a delightful pattern the camera was happened to capture.
By Any Other Name
This humpback with the beautiful mostly white tail with one perfect dot may be humpback whale # 18426 to someone sitting in an office trying to match up this years pictures from those of the last several years but I will never be able to remember this whale when I see him next year as # 18426. So, to me he is Dot. Male or female, young or old, it does not matter. This guys name is Dot. To be known by any other name…. well… would just be wrong. It’s Dot.
Easy Does It
This humpback has to be the largest, widest I’ve ever seen and I think there is a good chance she is a pregnant female. As you can see by the amount of her lower body that remained in the water this was not as full a breach as many we see. But what a tremendous site she is. If pregnant, she is a full 11 ½ months and could give birth at any moment. It is amazing that these animals are being studied, researched and observed by vast numbers of interested enthusiast all over the world yet not a single birth has been recorded by photos or film that is known of.
The Common Bond
Humpback whales are mammals just like humans. This fact means humpbacks must surface frequently to take a breath of oxygen rich air. This picture gives us a look at open blowholes as this humpback fills his huge lungs with enough oxygen to allow him to stay submerged up to an amazing 55 minutes. Like humans, all mammals must give life birth, have hair and nurse their young.
This pectoral fin protruding above the water looks to be posed and ready to give a good whacking to the male competitor behind him. These two males within a pod of a number of males and one female will put on a exhibition as interesting as any whale behavior you might ever witness. Males will fight and battle each other to win the right to be the females primary escort. She may well decide not to mate with the winner of this battle but that won’t deter these determined males.
All Too Common
This is the picture most common to even the most seasoned and determined photographer. Catching a great shot of a breach is much more tricky than one might think. So much of the time a great splashdown is the result of a good but delayed effort. One fact is clear and evident in this photo. If you turn towards a breach and this is what you see or photograph with this amount of splash, you’ve missed a good one.
A Midst The Jewels
An afternoon sun turns a beautiful blue sea into a glistening field of diamonds and purple amethyst while the battle for supremacy rages on. Two male humpbacks battle among the glitz for the privilege of competing for the prime escort position next to the one female among this composition pod. The lead humpback of these 2 makes a gallant attempt to made himself look as large and threatening as possible to the other competitors by enlarging his lower jaw by taking in a huge amount of water. Do you think he’s fooling anyone?
Always Beside Me
The life time of a humpback whale is one of mostly solitude. There are no strong family bonds as there are with orca whales or dolphins. The one exception to this rule is the first year of a new calf’s life. Mother and baby are inseparable for a full year when the baby will then return to Hawaii with Mom. At this time Mom will leave her year old to make it on his own. Though last years baby is just a young juvenile and far from adult maturity it’s time he finds his way alone. Mom has taught him well. He can now navigate and feed himself. All he doesn’t know he will have to learn on his own.
These 20 or so passengers on this whale watching boat got up this morning like any other morning. They had casually made plans for this whale watch or maybe it was a last minute decision. Of all their possible choices, this was theirs on this day and time. Today was going to be just another nice day on their lovely vacation on a tropical island. Then, in the middle of their whale watch, they had a very close encounter with a nosey humpback who took as much interest in them as they did in him. They had many magical moments together. Now, for some, things have changed. For some, this encounter will forever change the way they look at things. Their interest in our oceans and how to protect the magnificent creatures in it will be keener and the issues clearer. They will talk about this encounter many times and remember it forever. Most will return again and hope for the same experience knowing how rare a repeat experience would be. But to all that return, they will go back to see the whales. To all of them, congratulations. Let your souls be altered. Let your minds be changed. Let your hearts be touched. These gentle giants have the power to do all that. So be it.
As you find your way back to this page and those associated with it you might come to think what you see here is common. That these things… these sightings… these experiences happen to many people everyday. While it is true a handful of people on this planet are in a position to observe these spectacular animals for an extended period of time, the fact is most people will never witness the siting of a Humpback whale. For those that come to Hawaii during whale season and go out on a whale watch boat, you will see humpback whales and they will awe you. But in an eight hour day of whale watches, a breach by an adult whale may only happen once, if lucky twice. A few days may go by and you have no close up breaches and then the day will come when you have 5, 6 , 8 ,10 or more. There is just no predicting their behavior. But imagine… sitting on a whale watch boat, very still and quiet in the water because you know there are whales around so you can’t move, then, without any warning, this explosion of 40 tons of black massive whale with flying pec fins and waves of water come rushing out of the water close by you and crash back down with enormous thundering sound and massive water splash. You’ve just witnessed more than 99% of the worlds population will ever see by the fifth largest animal in the world. Anything common, ordinary or everyday about that? Not in my dictionary!
Flying High Adored
This wonderful juvenile was in such a playful state. Look at the fabulous breach with all but his tail in stately orbit. He graced us with several of these high flying breaches before settling down. This juvenile was with an adult which means that adult was most likely Mom and he was in the last days or even hours before he and Mom parted company. At one year of age now, he has returned to Maui with Mom. She will shortly leave him to make it on his own. He had been with Mom constantly since birth and will soon have no one. This must be a traumatic time for a one year old. Every now and then you can find a pod of two or three juveniles together playing and looking like they’re having the time of their life. It must be good at that very critical time to find a friend, even if just temporally.
This humpback looks to be a juvenile one or two years in age. The coloring on his tail has not yet become permanent and still has that gray flannel look to it. He will get his permanent tail coloring at the age of about three. Doesn’t he have a beautiful tail? Mostly white with a few dots of color… almost perfect. But this little one has had trouble in his past. Can you
My Home My World
I live in all the oceans of the world. My aquatic home covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. My home is large but I have boundaries. My ancestors traveled these waters 40 million years before man. Our appearance has changed greatly as has yours. There is room in my world for you. You have hunted my fathers and grandfathers to the brink of extinction. But there is room in my world for you. Y ou have polluted my home with commercial fishing debris. You have warmed the globe and so our waters till our food sources have become harder to find. You have harassed me and my fellow Cetaceans with low-frequency sonar so deafening and painful our brains and inner ears hemorrhage. You have polluted our home with toxic plastics that are killing sea birds and sea turtles by the many thousands. Who of us will be next. Still..there is room in my world for you. I carry the scar across my dorsal of fishing line that dug into my skin. But I am fortunate, I survived. Many did not and will not. Yet…. there is room in my world for you. Do you think you can make room in my world …. for me?
I have no solid or factual explanation for this photo. This is the dorsal to the tail of a newborn calf. He played and acted like a normal baby but the markings on this babies body are worrisome. Calves are usually protected by mom and hands off to the males when a competition arises yet this poor baby looks like he’s been in heavy battle. Mom’s newborn is her prized possession and should a male harm her calf she would certainly shun him and in doing so make his competition efforts worthless. I’ve seen a male get so jealous of any whale that pulled the females attention from him, including the females calf, that research boats were called to the site to try to separate a fighting male from a calf he was trying to harm. Yet this is an extreme and rare case. The best conclusion I can draw from the scratches on this baby is that he too was the target of a males anger when Mom didn’t give him the attention he wanted. Mom’s interaction with this male, if she had any at all, should have been extremely short and the baby, though beaten and battered, should have been fine.
Play Baby Play
He rises out of the water in perfect form, lands on his back as he has been taught and knows from experience and will repeat the playful activity time and time again. Play baby play. Today is as carefree a day as you will ever see again so play baby play. All too soon you will leave these beautiful warm waters and travel thousands of miles so play baby play. You have many lessons ahead of you. Dangers lay ahead but that is tomorrow so play baby play. All too soon you will return to these beautiful warm waters but you will not come to play. You will return again in the winter to find your own way through life. You will miss Mom so very much one day so very soon so play baby play. For the moment you may afford to be carefree.
The Time Has Come
This is Dasher. You might have seen Dasher in previous “Whale of the Day” pictures. He has a beautiful mostly white tail that he very graciously shows off when taking a long, slow fluke up dive. But here you see Dasher’s backbone and tail. Note how his backbone is protruding from the mass of his body. Dasher is a male and on this day he’s fighting for a female that has taken refuge under our boat so there was a good deal of male interaction all around us but the one fact I remembered most of this interesting observation was how skinny Dasher was. He didn’t seem so as a warrior but when able to see him from this
If you have found your way to this page in the past, you may have already met Tracy (bottom right). Tracy is my ultimate whale. She’s the soul reason, should you return to this page frequently, you just may see pictures of humpbacks you’ve never seen before. She was my model for a full 1 ½ hours as I sang to her and she spy hopped, tossed, turned and played in front of me. The whale you see above Tracy is the “winner” of the competition pod which had just disbanded. Having just won the primary escort position next to Tracy, he was very displeased when she choose to give our boat all of her attention. So, while Tracy visited every passenger on the boat, her male escort was swimming circles around the boat in anger, pec slapping, trumpeting and behaving very jealously. Tracy paid him no mind and soon he joined Tracy in playing with the boat. When they finally swam off together, it will then become a question. Actually, in the end, he gave in to Tracy’s wishes. Did he win her affections? Will he be Tracy’s choice?
So what will bring you to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. They have so much to offer. Whether you come from the 100+ degree heat summers of Las Vegas or the freezing cold winters of Minnesota, the tropical sunny days of Hawaii will win you over quickly. The ocean is delightful and offers a wide range of fun activities. The luaus, delicious tropical fruits, icy and colorful drinks and the freshest fish to be found are all a part of what makes Hawaii so special. But then for 6 months of the year, from Dec. through May, Hawaii has very VIP visitors. The humpbacks are back. Actually, the humpback that return to Hawaii, and mostly around Maui, are natives. They were born here. Although they spend more days of the year in cold Alaska waters rich in krill and other small fish in their limited diet, Hawaii is home. For some, the whales are the main attraction that brings us to Hawaii during the peak of the season and others will find themselves falling for these creatures as they witness them in their own natural habitat. But for all who see them, they are certainly a tropical attraction.
From the look of the tubercles on this humpback, we can be sure he is a male. They have been worn down to almost nothing from the rubbing and bumping he has done in the competition pods he’s fought in. They are not bloody so it looks like there has not been a fight today. From the look of his jaw we can be pretty sure he is not a young male. Judging from the amount of white circles on his jaw, he’s had hundreds of barnacles over the years and has managed to loose all but just a few below his jaw plate. Barnacles hold on to the flesh of a whale with their natural adhesive that is as strong as any known to man. This fellow has been around and seen many mating seasons.